Homemade envelopes from maps

I was digging out a local leaflet to include in letter when I found a few older map leaflets, and I’d also gained a few other map leaflets recently that I didn’t know what to do with either, tuen one morning I was inspired to make a few envelopes! I’ve got a couple of nice wooden envelope templates that make it easy.

The larger envelopes are made of maps of Derby, Shrewsbury, and the Science Museum in London, as well as the cover of an outdoor clothing catalogue. The smaller pocket envelopes are made from maps of the London underground, and Newstead Abbey gardens.

The Science Museum map is already on the way to a penfriend in the Netherlands who likes museums, and I’m planning to use the smaller envelopes to hold a few stickers or little flat gifts. It’s a really easy way to personalise a letter 🙂

Decorated dining chair

Most of my dining chairs are at least second hand basic folding Ikea chairs, but when I moved I bought a single decent chair with the intention of eventually having a fun and mismatched set of seating. I also intended to decorate the chair and brighten up the plain wood, and on the last bank holiday I started the transformation. It’s taken until now to get it finished and varnished but it’s definitely more fun now!

The boring ‘before’ chair

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And the final result!

The colours were chosen to match the pink and red in a nice decoupage paper I had, and the colours and styling were designed to go with the dining table I painted a while ago, with metallic cross bars and colour on the bottom of the legs. The colours are called ‘coral crush’ and ‘summer pudding’ (which was more crimson than expected) – paint colours have such wonderful names! There’s also a coat of varnish to protect the paper and colours.

I just walked back into my kitchen and saw the chair sitting in the sunlight and thought ‘oooh look at that!’ so I think the effort was worth it! Next on the decorating list: the wooden stand my printer sits on – I already have the paint and paper ready and waiting 🙂

Easy pillowcase swap

I recently took part in my first proper sewing swap on Swap-bot! The swap was for an pillowcase using a simple tube method with 3 fabrics. The instructions in the swap directed us to this video, but I think there’s plenty of similar instructions out there.

Sent to USA:

My swap partner likes pink and red, so a raid of the fabric stalls in the market produced a couple of nicely contrasting patterns with similar colours. I used a wide woven ribbon for the small strip of fabric because it coordinated better than anything else I had. I also added some text detail with freehand machine embroidery. And French seams too! I was really pleased with how it looks.


I was a bit uncertain about the size of the pillowcase, it seemed really wide for my pillows, but my swap partner was really happy with it 🙂 and the pillowcase I received is a similar width so it must be the design. Are American pillows wider than UK pillows?!
Received from USA:

I was a bit uncertain about what I might receive but look at this! A perfectly coordinated beautiful floral fabric pillowcase. It’s really well made with French seams and sharp corners. The sender told me she made lots of these as Christmas gifts, so maybe practice makes perfect 🙂

I’m looking forward to finding my next sewing swap now!

The day in pictures – 14th January 2017

I put together a bit of happy mail for a Swap-bot ‘send something to make me smile’ swap. Hopefully an envelope of goodies with a card will do the trick…

The shadow of holly on the bus shelter. Today the sun came out, I went into town, and again failed to buy any new boots.

The start of a new quilt! I’m planning to make the Star Light Star Dark quilt from Quilt Habit for someone’s big birthday. The bottom section will be orange, shading to red then purple.

In order to tidy things up, it is first required that I sort the mess into piles on the floor – Elinor tidying theory then says to leave them there to fall over until I get so fed up of it all I finish the job!

And now on to letter writing!

Embroidered garden cushion

While I was recuperating in the summer, I took a few pictures of my Mums garden in the sunshine. There’s some lovely colours and shapes. When I started wondering about Christmas gifts, I thought about another embroidered cushion cover, and then of the garden…

I printed a copy of the best photo and traced off the main features. I then got out all my scraps of fabric and tried to recreate the garden photo using freehand machine embroidery. I think it looks pretty good!

Here’s a bad photo of it on my sofa just before I wrapped it for Christmas. Also featuring a corner of my first quilt which hasn’t made it on to the blog yet 🙂 I didn’t take a back picture but the fabric is pink flowers in pots to match the garden theme.

After holding it upside down and saying how lovely it is, Mum finally realised it wasn’t an abstract design! It’s now on a chair facing the garden, a mirror in fabric 🙂

Quilted Christmas Stocking

I like to make things for my parents, I think they enjoy being able to say that I made whatever it is. Or I hope that’s the case and they’re not just being nice!

I find making for men harder, they don’t seem to need pouches or bags, although I’ll admit there’s only so many small sewn storage solutions that anyone really needs… So this year I made my Dad a stocking – and then got carried away putting little things in it but that’s a separate problem!

I did a quick search and found an idea for a stocking with a quilted star here. I just took the idea from the pictures. I learnt how to make stars whilst working on my quilt, and they’re a quick pattern to add festive detail. I made my stocking 15m/ 8″ across the top then drew a stocking shape to add to the star block on each side. 

I used 3 festive fat quarters – a red and a white snowflake pattern and a red Christmas text pattern.

I have nowhere good to hang a stocking so here it is on a door handle 🙂

I used the great selvage to make the hanging loop. There’s often wonderful little details next to the manufacturer and fabric details.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Now there’s only one day left before I hand it over!

Sewing chaos

I’m in a weird mood with my sewing at the moment… I have a long list of planned projects (Christmas gifts, tops, sewing set, skirt, dress, birthday quilts) but I don’t seem to have the patience or the motivation to get on with things. I just want it all to be completed! And then I get frustrated that I haven’t achieved anything and stressed that nothing is ready, which is all ridiculous because it’s supposed to be fun. I can sit in the office all day mentally designing all sorts of things, but in the evenings I don’t seem to be doing more than the basics of living – eating, cleaning, sleeping… And recent weekends have been busy with events and trips and things like food shopping. I can probably blame the darkness and increasing cold, it’s much easier to curl up and read. No one but me will know if home made gifts never get given or finished, it just feels like there’s creativity going to waste somewhere. And I could really use some new tops and skirts and a way to organise my desk 🙂

This is my sewing desk right now, featuring: the finished blue skirt that needs a hook to stop the zip undoing, a half finished grey skirt that ground to a halt when I couldn’t locate my zip foot in the mess, scattered fat quarters for Christmas gifts, a stack of fabric for organisational things for my desk, piled with dressmaking cottons and a vest top that I added sleeves to then tried to adjust and made a horrible mess of and just needs hemming as a vest to be wearable (but it looks like camouflage fabric from a distance so how wearable I’m not sure!). And the tubes are to store quilt binding.

I think I might be just a little overwhelmed. I’ll put some of it away and focus on one thing at a time – maybe that way I’ll get one thing finished 🙂

Mountain cushion

This started as an early morning post because I was too uncomfortable to sleep this morning, but then breakfast arrived 🙂 It all appears to have gone well yesterday but it’s going to take a while to feel better.

This cushion was last minute birthday present idea because I had no clues what to buy and had been so distracted by medical matters the date crept up on me!

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Here’s the cushion, posing on my sofa with my other wonky mountain 🙂 It’s my largest machine applique/ embroidery project so far, I’ve only made postcards before, but creating the pattern and choosing fabrics is still the hardest part.

I was aiming for mountains and a small peninsula reflected in a lake. A few years ago we were in North Wales and saw a perfect reflection of the Snowdon horseshoe, and I’ve had a poster of that photo on my wall. With the different fabrics it turned out a little abstract but the recipient still understand it 🙂

I didn’t take any close up photos to properly show the freehand sewing machine embroidery. The pieces were cut out of a hurriedly made pattern and attached to the cushion with ‘heat and bond’. I then freehand stitched around all of the edges a few times, for security and I like the look of several rounds of overlapping stitches – and I can never get the same line twice! I also embroidered curves across the water parts to suggest ripples, I knew I’d bought that blue green variegated cotton for a reason 🙂  The sky looked a little empty, so because it’s a dark cotton I added the moon and a few stars. If I had a bit longer I think I’d add more details to the view. The entire cushion is made of scraps, and I don’t have a huge amount of suitable fabric, so the back is made of dark indigo denim to keep with the water theme. At least it all turned out big enough and just about square!

More handmade postcards

I’m slowly adding to my handmade postcard collection 🙂 I’ve done a couple of swapbot swaps recently and received beautiful cards.

Handmade postcard swap:

Sent to UK

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Freehand machine embroidered owl. I’m not sure what it is about his face that makes him look so daft…

Received from Australia

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I think this is decoupage paper, paint, stamped shapes and collage on board. It’s a lovely card. And if I made people smile today it’s because my bicycle riding is wobbly enough to be amusing…

Washi tape patchwork postcard

Sent to Australia

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The colours look off in the photo, but it’s a stripey and partially woven basic design. The swap required that the tape was protected somehow, so there’s a layer of glue as a varnish.

Received from Canada

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More imaginative than my creation, washi tape with marker pen decoration, protected with sticky tape.

I’m planning to make more handmade cards (and more owls) sometime, but there are so many things I’d like to make at the moment!

Handmade postcards

Handmade postcards aren’t very popular on Postcrossing, I think most people have experienced receiving a few stickers on some paper and been less than impressed by the ‘artwork’. I’m always happy to see what people create, and I now have the start of a little homemade collection 🙂 A collision of 2 of my favourite things – sewing and snail mail!

I was contacted by Mary in Russia (who first saw the cards on this blog, so hello!) wanting to swap handmade cards, a from a few of her suggestions I stitched a view of books and tea. I sent it in an envelope but I’m becoming more confident that the cards would survive naked.

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In return I received a lovely cross-stitched quote and bird, with a fun woven border (and only mild damage from the long journey). Thank you 🙂

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I was also reminded of a card I received a few months ago from Gina in Germany as part of the monthly postcard diary swap. Sparkly crochet!

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Hopefully my collection will continue to grow in size and craft styles! I’ll have to get making so I’ll have cards to send in return…