The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: January 2012

Friday, 27 January 2012

The glorious world of fabrics and quilt making

I have always loved looking at fabrics and patterns. I regularly pop into White Stuff and lust after the pretty printed tops (and buy them too!), I ooh and ahh over Laura Ashley bed covers, and I can never walk past a Cath Kidston shop without going in and checking out the fabrics and lovely patterned accessories and bags.

I’ve recently discovered the huge range of patterned fabrics in craft shops and from online suppliers. How I didn’t know about these lovely fabrics, I just don’t know! Going into fabric shops when I was younger consisted of buying cheap poly cotton in bright colours for a school cushion project, and white cotton to tie-dye and to try out batik and sewing samples. It never occurred to me that there is such a huge range of lovely fabrics available to buy in so many different styles. I’m really loving the fabrics from Liberty, and some designs by Amy Butler and Tanya Whelan.  I haven’t even touched the surface of all the ranges out there…

Working in the city of Bath, I am very lucky to be near some wonderful shops, and even more lucky to be a quick 5 minute walk to a fantastic little craft shop called The Makery. The second that you walk in to this quaint little shop you are surrounded by beautifully laid out craft supplies, a great range of bespoke buttons, ribbons and fabrics…it's my idea of heaven! I am really hoping to go to one of the courses that they hold in the shop at some point in the future…

…I headed to The Makery on my lunch break last Thursday to buy some fat quarters…what is a fat quarter I hear you ask?…well after checking it out, it's fabric cut to about 20” x 22”!...I was on a mission to find some patterned fabric that I needed for a crafty day with one of my friends, Emelie. We both needed to get some fabrics together as we were kindly being given a day of teaching on the basics of quilting with Emelie's mother-in-law to-be, Andrea. So here are the fabrics that I chose to add to my fabric stash. All are sold at The Makery and some can be found on their website...

I love the red and blue piggy fabric with the odd pink pink in the pattern...and don't you just want to eat the apples!

Last Saturday, with my sewing machine and my fabric stash in hand, I headed to Emelie's house to start the day. Andrea, our teacher for the day, has had many years of experience as a quilter and has created the most astounding quilts for her home and given many as special gifts. Andrea’s style of teaching and passion for quilting instantly made me want to get stuck in and try everything! So after a cup of tea and a talk through the culture of quilts and seeing some of Andrea’s amazing designs, Emelie and I embarked on a day of learning! We were shown some of the basics of quilt making, how to cut our fabrics to the right size and how to piece together a basic log cabin square design.

Andrea helped me look through all of my fabrics to help me select the right fabrics for each stage of the design to make it work with the pattern we were trying to produce. I took the photo below while we had a tea break and we tucked into the homemade scones topped with clotted cream and jam. I was so pleased with the results of my log cabin square, I ended up making three by the end of the day!

I had such a great day, so thank you Andrea! The day opened my eyes to the variety of different techniques and styles in quilting, and the effect of how certain fabrics can look next to others to create an overall pattern. We haven’t quite got onto the quilting bit yet, but I’m loving it! I can already see that collecting fabrics and mastering different quilting techniques will be one of my new craft addictions!

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Planting onions

I really enjoy getting outside in our garden space, tidying up the leaves and looking at the plants we have growing. Everything I have growing is in a container or a pot but at the moment things are looking very bare and empty. We have a shady courtyard and have tried a few times to grow veg and plants. We had a few successful ‘crops’ last year, we managed to grow rocket, salad leaves, a few tomatoes, some chillies and one courgette! This year I’m hoping for a few more successes and to grow some flowers in window boxes, root vegetables and a few more plants.

To start things off I prepared one of the planters and planted some onion bulbs. I’m really not too sure how they will turn out or even if they will grow but it is a start to getting a more populated set of planters!

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Sunday, 15 January 2012

Making a start with crochet

During the summer I had my first go at learning to crochet and I didn’t have a lot of success. I found it hard to hold the hook and yarn, plus I got quite confused with the patterns and different techniques. I managed some of the basics but every time I tried the stitches were uneven and didn’t look quite like the pictures in the books! I put my crochet hook down in the summer with the aim of mastering the knitting basics instead.

This weekend I finished writing my new year goals and I decided that I should have another go at crochet. I got my books out scoured over the gorgeous pictures of blankets, bags and little illustrations of the basic stiches. After a bit of concentration, warming up my hands, and practicing a few times, I managed to create a block of double crochet...

and a basic granny square using an odd ball of wool I found.

I was so happy with the outcome as the crochet stiches looked even and much more like the illustration in the book. I think starting with knitting must have helped me get to grips with tension and reading patterns.

The brilliant book that helped me create the two above was titled Crochet Unravelled - A clear and concise guide to learning crochet by Claire Bojczuk. You can pick it up on Amazon and hopefully smaller craft shops too. It had really good explanations of the basics and great step by step illustrations and made me feel that I could achieve some of the basics. Out of all of the books I have this really helped me gain some confidence.

I have a few other crochet books that I will now look at in a different light, with the aim of trying to find something that I can create and a pattern I can follow. The one shown below, Cute & Easy Crochet By Nicki Trench, has a lovely range of projects for a number of levels. The first pattern in Chapter 1 - Starting Out, has a beautiful Springtime Throw, which is a project involving lots of squares and is 'perfect for a beginner'.

So maybe I'll give that a go soon? But for now though I’m going to keep practicing and will try the next stage of adding different coloured yarn to a basic granny square. Wish me luck!

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Saturday, 14 January 2012

New Year, New Projects!

Happy New Year to you! I hope that you are looking forward to the year ahead as much as I am. I wonder what the year ahead may hold?

For the past few weeks we have had really cloudy and rainy weather but at last blue sky and fresh cold weather has made an appearance…

...and with the bright weather has come some clarity for the year ahead…I always try and write a few resolutions every January and I’m reasonably good at keeping them! However this year I’m going to set goals for what I want to achieve. I’m hoping to learn new things, share my inspirations and projects with you and spend quality time with good friends and family.

My wish list of projects to complete this year includes...

1) Complete my adventurous knitting project, a gorgeous Rowan cosy cable cushion

2) Pick up a crochet hook, refresh myself on the basics and make a start on a project

3) Learn the basics in quilt making and make something by the end of the year that I’m proud of

4) Try some new recipes, perfect my cake baking and biscuit making skills

5) Pick up some basic sewing skills using my lovely new sewing books I had as Christmas gifts, and make a few projects for the home

6) Get gardening again and find some new things for the home

There are quite a few things on the list, I just hope I can decide what to start first! What are you hoping to make and create this year?

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