Friday, 28 September 2012

Day Tripping

In an attempt to make the most of every last ray of late-summer sunshine, we've been reserving a day each weekend for 'day trips'.  We've re-visited a few old favourites (like the Burg Linn British Days festival, and the lovely city of Bonn), but we've also discovered some great new places.  

My favourite 'new place' is Villa Hügel (the Krupp family mansion in Essen).  It's an amazing house in enormous, picnic-perfect grounds.

I remembered to take my camera along.....

The beautiful villa:

Tall trees and blue, blue sky:

And pretty little daisies:

As we were coming to the end of our lovely walk around the grounds, I spotted an opportunity for adventure.  What was this hiding amongst the trees? Well.....

A witch's house, of course:

We couldn't leave yet!  I had to investigate.....

I couldn't see her through this window:

Nor this one:

Well, she must have been out!  But it's always good to end day trips with a little fairytale adventure!!!

Wishing you all a happy (and adventurous) weekend.....



Friday, 21 September 2012

Button Bracelet Tutorial

I’ve been wanting to make some sort of button bracelet for aaaages.  With no particular plans on Saturday, I decided to try it out.  I had several goes before I managed to make one that looked how I wanted it to look, but I was really pleased with my last attempt!  Here it is:

I took some photos along the way and, when it turned out okay, I decided to use them to share a little tutorial with you.....

What you need:
  • Some cute buttons (the most important ingredient)
  • Some tiny beads
  • Embroidery floss
  • Scissors
  • A thin sewing needle
  • A ruler or tape measure

1.  The first step is the most fun!  Choose a colour-scheme for your bracelet and raid your beloved button tin/jar.  Pick out different sizes and styles of button.  I should just mention that I spent an hour on this step..... Though a more decisive person could probably do it in 2 minutes!

2.  Arrange your buttons in a line (then, if you’re like me, spend half an hour re-arranging and re-arranging and re-arranging them).  Leave tiny gaps between your buttons as you lay them out.  My button-line was about 18cm long.  TIP:  When you’re knotting the floss later on, don’t tie the knots too tightly to begin with.  Then, if you’re bracelet is too long, you can undo them and take off a button or two.  If it’s too short, you can easily add more buttons.

This photo shows my ‘original’ line of buttons.  You’ll see in the photos later on that my final bracelet looks a bit different – I had to take one button out, then rearrange things a bit, to make it fit properly.

2.  Cut a metre-long length of embroidery floss.  Use your needle to thread a few little beads on to the floss. You need to use enough beads to make a loop large enough for your last button to fit through.  When you’ve done this, grab the two ends of the floss (folding it in half), and push the beads along to the middle (where the floss is folded).  Then knot the floss to hold the beads in place.  This loop will be used to close the bracelet.

3.  Now thread one of the dangling lengths of floss through your needle.  Sew up through the first button hole, then down through the other.

4.  Remove the needle, then thread it onto the other length of floss.  This time, take the floss over the top of the button (the front of the bracelet).  Sew down through the first button hole and up through the next.  These two steps are tricky to explain, but relatively easy to do.  I think the photos may be more useful than my rambling here???

5.  Now knot the two lengths of floss together, as close to the button as possible.

6.  Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 to thread all of your buttons (apart from the last one) on to the bracelet.  Adding shank buttons is easy-peasy!  I just used a little bead on each side of mine, to keep my spacing even.

7.  After you’ve knotted on your penultimate button, tie three more knots in the floss (making sure you bunch them all up right next to each other).

8.  Thread your needle with one of the floss lengths.  Sew up through one of the holes in your final button, then down through the other.  Then thread your needle with the other length of floss, and sew up and down through opposite holes.  Now one piece of floss should be sticking out of the bottom of each button hole.  

9.  Tie the floss off tightly with a couple more knots, then cut off the ends.

10.  Your button bracelet is ready to wear!!!

Give it a try!  Picking out and arranging the buttons genuinely DID take me an hour and a half (and what a fun hour and a half it was)!!!  But, the actual making of the bracelet was really quick and easy.  I think they’d make great little Christmas or birthday presents – especially for your crafty, button-loving pals!!!

If you do give it go, I’d love to see some photos.....



Friday, 14 September 2012

River Otter Walk

I know my recent posts have been a little photo-heavy (and lacking in craftiness), but I just HAD to share these with you.....

While we were back in the UK, we stayed with Simon’s parents for a few days.  They live in Devon, in Exmouth.  My grandparents had a static caravan in Exmouth for years and years, and we used to spend every school holiday down there (in fact, it’s where I met Simon  - he happened to be lifeguarding at the site’s pool when I was 16.....). 

When I was a little girl, my favourite place to visit near ‘the caravan’ was the River Otter.  I LOVED paddling in the shallow bits, making dams with pebbles from the riverbed, collecting ‘nature’ to take back to the caravan, and stopping off at Otterton Mill for a slice of homemade shortbread.

The Otter is STILL my favourite place to visit when we’re in that part of the world!  It’s so beautiful and peaceful.  I don’t tend to build dams or collect nature nowadays (though both are tempting), but I DO still like to have a little paddle and visit the Mill.  These days, I have to have a cream tea whenever we stop off there.  They make THE most delicious scones in the whole wide world!!!

On this particular visit, I saw my very first River Otter otter!!!  I was SO excited!!!  I tried to get a photo of him, but he was too quick for me. 

Here are my snaps.....

[Where the river meets the sea - Budleigh Salterton]

[Pretty little snails]

[Beautiful clouds]

[Friendly butterfly]

[Blue, blue sky peeping out from between the clouds]

[Wild flowers]

[A perfect paddling patch]

If you’re ever in Devon, you should definitely go and spend a day paddling in the Otter!



Friday, 7 September 2012

Quilt Commission

I wanted to do a show-and-tell of this project before the summer holidays, but my computer issues got in my way.  Now that I have a shiny new laptop that works (for now), I’m going to try with this post again.....

One of my sister’s colleagues wanted a present for a new mum friend of hers, and Jessica (who’s very good at telling people ‘my sister makes things’) put her in touch with me.  She decided to order a baby boy’s quilt (she’d seen one I’d made last year), and asked for a big bag to match – a baby buggy bits and bobs bag!!!

I made the quilt first.  I could spend ALL DAY long picking out and matching up fabrics, cutting them into little squares, and sewing them together.  What fun!!!  Sandwiching the top, bottom and batting together, pinning it all, sewing it all up.....  hmmmm..... not quite SO much fun.  I put that bit off for quite a while.  But, when I eventually finished the quilt, I LOVED it!!!

After that, I had to make the bag.  I wanted it to match with the quilt, but I didn’t want to use the really little-boy-ish robot and cog fabrics.  So, I bought some plain blue fabric (I picked the colour from the background of the robots and cogs) for the outside, and used the yellow checked fabric from the quilt for the lining of the bag.  I also incorporated some of the brighter colours from the quilt by sewing on a spotty rosette and some buttons.

Luckily, the girl who placed the order AND the new mum really liked both items.  Phew!!!

After this commission, I was VERY excited to get TWO more orders for baby quilts from Jessica’s colleagues.  More showing and telling to come.....

Happy weekend, dear blog pals!!!



Sunday, 2 September 2012

Holiday Snaps Part 2

So, we survived our first week back at work.  But now I need to have another look through the holiday photos, to remind myself that we HAVE ACTUALLY been away..... 

Venice, Italy

Koper, Slovenia

Kotor, Montenegro

Sigh!  Why do holidays always fly sail by so quickly?!?

I'll be back again soon - hopefully to share some of my recent crafty pursuits with you.....



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