Monday, 30 December 2013

Creative gifts

I hope you all had a very happy Christmas. I was very lucky and received a number of books to inspire me....

....and things to use during the making phase...a very posh tape measure, a needle threader, some lovely variegated threads and a vintage cotton reel to use in my cotton reel themed work.

I also received pressies to encourage my creativity in the kitchen. I was very pleased to receive this book as I have fancied making a pizza for some time now. 

I was also given a baking stone and a dough cutter, so with no excuses left....

... I've made some pizza dough, which is (hopefully!) rising, as I type. I confess to being a little bit nervous about how it's going to turn out as the dough recipe has only 0.2g of yeast in it (yes, I did mean 0.2g) . I couldn't believe it was so little and so contacted the authors to check whether there had been a misprint but apparently not.  I'm very pleased that they came back to me so quickly, otherwise I might have been tempted to add some more yeast and a least upped the quantity to a whole 2g!

Well, if it doesn't turn out well I can always have a mozzarella sandwich and given what I've eaten during the Christmas festivities, it wouldn't do me any harm to miss a meal!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone

As I child I always had a red dress for Christmas and on the spur of the moment I decided that I would make a red dress for this Christmas. It helped that I had some red fabric in my stash.

As I only started on Saturday evening it had to be quick to make and I used Vogue pattern no 8786. I had bought this pattern to make the cap sleeve version in the summer but I never quite found the time to make it but given the time of year and the fact that I had enough fabric, I decided to make the long sleeved version.

This was a categorised as 'Very Easy' and not only was it easy but it was also quick to make, especially as the fabric I used didn't fray. As the fabric was stretchy, I made it into a slip-on dress and sewed up the back seam rather than leaving an opening at the neck and this made it even quicker to make. I also extended the sleeves to make them full length. Two pattern alterations, I'm almost a fashion designer, surely? I wish!

Whether your Christmas preparations include anything textiley, I hope they are going to plan, that if you are travelling you have a safe journey and that you have a very happy Christmas.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

'Stamped' Christmas cards

I really enjoyed the Thomas Heatherwick exhibition at the V&A and I marvelled at the ingenious ideas he came up with. But there was one idea that I thought I could probably recreate and that was his Christmas cards made from stamps.

Like the card above, Thomas had made his from new stamps  and although it was OK I preferred the card I later made from last year's stamps  - even with curly and missing corners.

I only had enough stamps to make one card but I scanned the card....
....and printed it out in different sizes.

These were created after most of my cards have been posted but I have given some of them out to friends I have seen.  This could be a way to make use of your Christmas stamps and it's certainly a simple enough to do with children too.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Angels and Cakes

On Saturday, I enjoyed a Christmas Tea at the North Herts & Beds branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. The event was very well attended and we enjoyed a very entertaining, inspiring and informative talk by Lynda Monk and if that wasn't enough we were treated to a lovely tea prepared by the committee members.
After the talk, Lynda very generously let us try out her technique of printing with Xpandaprint through a thermofax screen. Being in the Christmas mood, I chose an angel design and printed it onto lutradur before blasting it with a heat gun to make her dress look a little more Lacy.
I used the excess paste on the screen to print onto paper and then painted over it and rubbed the raised bits with Treasure Gold.
This technique could be used to make some lovely Christmas cards but it's all a bit late for this year. I had plans for some stitched felt cards this year it just didn't happen.  
At the tea I also collected this lovely miniature Christmas cake, which I had ordered from Gina.
More than 20 years ago I went on a cake decorating course and this is the first year since then that I have not made my own Christmas cake. Partly due to lack of time but also because my Dad always tucked into it and would take a good chunk of it home. Without his help eating it, was it worth making it? So having decided not to make one, I have now succumbed and bought one, albeit smaller than I would normally make.

Gina always presents her work so beautifully too and as we ate it over the weekend (Tut tut, before Christmas) I can tell you it tasted very good too.  

 I'll be interested to see how the bought cake compares to home made ones. It's difficult to know what to wish for, how will I feel if after all these years of slaving over my cakes, the bought ones are better? I suspect I will go back to making one next year, perhaps just smaller than I used to make.