Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fabric Thimble part 2

Sorry for the delay in posting the second part to this project. We had some awful news on Friday and really have been feeling so lost and sad. But life goes on and my crafts keep me sane and positive. So here is as promised our little sew along project.It is lovely to hear from some of you who will be making this with me.

First thing is to find our how long you want your thimble to be. I need mine about 3cm to protect my finger while sewing.Also wrap the tape around your finger for an exact fit. Make not eof these measurements as this will form your pattern- a thimble to just suit you. Even if you have longer finger nails you can make one to suit what you need.

Draw you measurements onto your fabric..I am using felt scraps but you can use anything you have around. I believe in being frugal and making do....

Cut out your pattern pieces. I am making mine quite thick  so I am cutting 3 pieces to stitch together.You can make yours thinner or sandwich batting in between.

I am using a coin to be a template for the top of the thimble. Again cut as many pieces to make the ideal thickness you will need. I am doing 3 circles again.

Pin the three rectangles together and stitch all around. I will be using a blanket stitch to do this.You can choose what stitch you enjoy working. I am planning to use a thread ( embroidery floss) that will stand out...maybe even a decorative stitch.When you have sewn all around the rectangles- curl it around your finger and stitch the two short ends of the rectangle together. You should now have a felt tube- ready to top off with your circles.

Do the same for the circles. Stitch all 3 together around the edges.

I got this lovely braid - felt fusion - usually meant for scrapbooking but lovely to decorate my thimble. So we will wait to see what I decide.

I will leave you now to do your cutting and stitch and come back again to show how to piece it together.

Enjoy till then.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making A Fabric Thimble for Sewing Part One


I thought I would dig into my stash to see what I had to do my thimble. This is what I found ....the two faces are simply cos they are so cute. Alot of my stash has come from a lovely elderly neighbour of mine Betty who gave me old bits and pieces from her sewing basket. I have decided to use a green and pink to make the base of my thimble. I am using my little bundle of felt scraps. Also bits of braids ,buttons ,beads and embroidery floss. I have not decided what to do on mine but it will evolve. I hope you will gather your stuff and stich along with me. I will post the pattern tomorrow.

Tea Party for one

I decided after being so inspired by one of our lovely followers to our blog - to get out my favourite little tea set.I don't have much - moves over the years seeing the sad end to some of my prettier finds. I have soured Op shops ( charity shops) to pick up pretty cups and saucers. My favourite being the old floral ones . A lovely gift from a neighbour of herbal tea the other day , also a lovely excuse to play tea party while I work on my crafts and bears. I have no one to share the morning with me so a lovely friend found in a vintage photograph will have to do. As I sit and drink tea and sew - I look over into the face of this young woman and try to imagine who she was and what she loved to do.

Today also I have been playing with some pieces to make myself some vintage style jewelry. Little domes to capture prints of vintage pictures. Lovely fun.I thought I would share with all of you.

These should form little charms for pendants or bracelets or for little bears to wear around their necks.  If anyone wants to join me - I will be making some little fabric thimbles with embroidery - to protect my fingers as I sew my bears. You will need scraps of felt , embroidery floss and beads or braids. I will post the start of the pattern tomorrow. Too many stabs with the needle while sewing. Let me know if you would like to stitch along with me. Email me or leave a message.

Go on have a wee tea party - even by know you want to.....

Things that go Boom!!

What happens when two very young at heart  people have a spare $29.95..Hmmm? They buy fire crackers! Yesterday was Guy Fawkes - a traditional English holiday to remember some poor soul who tired to blow up parliament in England. But for us here in New Zealand - its a mightly fine excuse to make some noise and be children again. The sale of fireworks here is only allowed for the three days leading up to Guy Fawkes. Folk here buy them now and stash them away for holidays and New Year etc. I have never had the thrill of fire crackers growing up in a part of the world where they were banned. Too many fires and kids with missing fingers.Greg on the other hand recalls too many "great ideas" with the stuff that also required great speed and agility!!

So we decided it was a much needed soulful experience. Thanks to lovely friends and neighbours who zipped into town and got us our "boom box" - we were set. After dinner a trudge up the farm to the top of a paddock was required.Away from the animals and anyone who could be upset . We rationed out our stash for future celebrations and took a little bagful of treats to go make some noise.

What fun. To light each one - make a hasty retreat and stand in the darkness and enjoy. The noise , the bangs and the colours. We giggled and plotted like little children - which one should we do next? Which was the best ever..I looked over and saw in the face of my love - a little boy. What joy!!

It was such a catharsis to let fire works go - and to reflect . For me it was beyond escaping to see the parallel between events of the day and our tiny little explosions of joy. Often things arrive in our life , in the mail, in events and happenings that disturb our peace. They annoy , shake , aggravate and anger us- Sometimes even sadden us. But in reality they are really like fire works in a dark sky..making a big show of noise , and colour attracting attention but really meaning nothing. The night sky emblazoned by colour did not change or alter...nor did the stillness of the evening . Nothing changed beyond what we allowed.

We all have people in our lives and those held firmly on the outside , who will try to change or dictate to us- to control and to manipulate. It is so easy to become frazzled by them But really they mean nothing. They do nothing to alter us.

They make some noise and then go out. Both of us are learning to laugh as they go boom! and then turn our backs and walk away.

Next time someone in your life goes off like a fire cracker....just think of firecrackers on a lonely hill in New Zealand. Laugh and enjoy the show!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pretty Pin Cushions

One of our lovely visitors to our blog wrote me to say she liked my little pin cushion that was sitting on my work table. So I decided to share how simple it was to make up one and what a great chance to use up pretty scraps and precious finds. I love to have pretty things to work with- be it pencils or pin cushions . It just makes the task so much more fun. I love too the shabby chic style of things - so using old vintage ribbons or braids is a great way to go.

The instructions are just basic so if anyone gets lost along the way- just ask for help and I will explain.

There are no specfiic patterns to make your pin cushion - you decide on the shape and size you need. I made mine tiny as I wanted a wee thing to pop into my sewing case for sewing trips away from home. I wanted everything tiny but functional.

Pick a circle the size you want. I traced around a pretty box- so I could store my pin cushion in it when finished. Draw around the lid of your box. You will then need to cut out the circle from cardboard as a template and cut two circles from felt or fabric. I used scrap felt pieces.

Use your tape measure to measure around the side of the box lid to get your pattern for the sides of your pin cushion. From this you will cut a rectangle that length . The width of the rectangle will depend on your big you want your pin cushion to be. Your pattern should look something like the image below.

You will need to cut one rectangle from this - use your felt or fabric pieces. You may also want to cut contrasting braid or ribbon at the same time - in preparation to decorate your pin cushion.

You will sew the pieces together . One circle for the top and the other for the base. The rectangle will become the sides of your pin cushion. I use a blanket stitch to sew the pieces up. Stuff firmly. I read that stuffing your pin cushion with steel wool helped keep your pins sharp. I use regular scraps of batting.  Now is the fun part...go through your stash of buttons, braids and felt to cut out decorations. Sew and decorate as you like...

Have fun. let me know if you get stuck or need help or want to share your creations with me. You can email me or leave a comment on our blog....

Where should you bury your dog?

A couple of days ago I visited a friend. Our lives have been occupied by many and varied events since we last chatted and far too many months have passed with no communication between us. My friend has been ill, very ill and I worried about what state of health he might be in on this day.  As it turned out I found him better than I had hoped and worse than I had expected. I know that sounds strange but let me explain. His health issues were under control and he as he always did was facing his problems with courage and good humour but, last week, his dog died.
If you are not a dog owner this means a dog died. If on the other hand you have ever owned a dog then you know how deeply grieved and unsettled my friend was. He sadly told me that this past weekend was his first weekend since 1982 that he had been without a dog. Such a comment spoke volumes about this mans love of his dogs.
I sat with him as he recounted life with his dogs and remembered many wonderful adventures. With each new memory I too drifted into the past, to walk the hills with dogs now gone, feel their breath on my face and hear their insistent happy barking.
I  have led a life often connected with dogs. I currently own three and the passing of my canine friends has always left a huge hole in my life and heart. There is something quite unique about a relationship with a dog. A dog loves with no conditions and never tells you how you must act or dress. A dog isn't embarrassed when you forget to grow up, quite the contrary, it is a dogs greatest joy when you get down on your knees and roll in the grass with him or her, or better still, when you run and splash in the sea with abandon.
To say goodbye to a dog is to leave a part of your soul chasing the wind.
I saw the carefully laid grave of my friends dog and silently said a gentle goodbye to an old acquaintance who was always gracious in his welcome and gently polite as he sat next to my feet.
I have buried  my dogs in gardens and feilds up and down this country. I have carried the collar of one to our favorite hut in the hills to leave it there, tied to a rough cross. A testament of the spirit of that particular dog and the life we lived together. We deal with the passing of our dogs in many varied ways and each is appropriate to the dog and the person concerned. There is no right or wrong place to bury your dog, no sober or acceptable way to mourn such an indescribable relationship. But tonight I read a quote that went like this..."the only place to bury a dog is in the heart of its owner" and that I suspect is why we cannot describe what it is like. A dog doesn't just live in our physical lives he dwells in our heart.

Long live the dog!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Welcome Poco- A Mystic Hills Bear

Thank you to all who had such lovely things to say about my little bear. I enjoy making it and it is very much a joint effort with Greg helping with the stuffing and finding weighty things to fill little our little bear. I think half the fun or more of the life we have chosen is that we get to share so much of it together as a couple. I love going out on the farm with Greg and learning how things work and what needs to be done. I have learnt so much in the time I have lived here and am so fortunate to have a gentle and well informed teacher in Greg.Greg's input and skill too is such a big part of  what I create .Be it scrambling up bushes to cut down twigs for me to weave with- or shearing fleece for me to spin- or emptying pellets  out of a shot.

Part of the joy in living for me is the process of learning- I love to learn new stuff. What I learn and how much is less of an issue in comparison to the actual act of discovering something new. The internet for me is a wonderful source to meet with people who have new ideas and abilities. My love for art and creating is even more heightened by seeing the work of others and having the opportunity to talk to others who are working with new mediums and designs.

Poco is a new design tedddy bear that I am experimenting with- the notion of appeal and personality is more an issue in such a bear than proportion and realism. It is truly my sort of thing.

Poco will be listed for sale soon - so if anyone of you out there wants to give him a home - email me at or leave a comment on our blog

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bears and Souls


Its been a long time since I have settled down to make  a bear. I love the creative and magical aspect of creating  a little being out of  fur fabric , stuffing and other bits and pieces. I have been regularly amazed at how something as small as a little bear can reach past many adult defences and find in an instant what remains of the child. Me, I have never grown up - ask Greg who lives with me and shares his home with all manner of fluffy creations. My work table  is a mess of little cute tins, beads, dolls, and stuff ( my collective term for all that I have!) For me these things are so much part of my personality....I love the cute.

Yesterday I packed a wee pouch of my sewing things - parts of a teddy bear in progress and headed off with Greg into the city. We make rare and hasty visits to the big smoke -  happier in our small rural towns instead. Greg had an appointment and I settled myself into a corner of the local library to wait. After looking at anything and everything book-wise that I fancied - I settled into a corner to sew my little bear. Isnt' it lovely to have a wonderful little pouch crammed with creative potential. I love unzipping my pouch to find a sweet hand made pin cushion, my pretty scissors and my bear pieces.As I worked , I noticed an older lady come by and deposit an empty cardboard box by me. She then proceeded to load it up with a selection of books from the large print section of the shelf. We did not look at each other or even exchange nods. There was so much distance between us inspite of the fact we were less that 2 feet apart. I noted her face- a hard and determined expression - an almost single mindedness in her task.  She struck me as a woman who had not time for idle chit chat or other such trivial stuff . She loaded up books into her box and I sewed.

As she got ready to leave - she picked up her box now loaded with about 20 hardback books and struggled with the weight. I offered to help her. She declined and said she could could. cope  We exchanged smiles . Acknowledged the space we each shared in time. Then her curiosity got the better of her. "What are you making" she asked. I popped out from my little sewing pouch - the head of an unfinished teddy bear. In an instant I caught a glimpse of a different person- age and time stripped off. Pain and the years melted- instead in her place - the eyes of a young soul - excited and child like .Mesmerized by the little creature I had produced from my hidden pouch.She made a little squeal of of delight and spoke to me some more about my creation.

I was struck by how deeply embedded our true spirits are as we grow up...grow old. We mortgage  our childlike glee for the sensible, curb giggles for calculated humour , stiffle the belief in magic for reality and practicality.

We age .

I love making my little bears - it is my tap into my own soul.The part of me that really believes what I create is a "real thing" not just fur and stuffing. I talk to my creations and enjoy the emerging personality. In some circles - I would be promptly put into extensive therapy. But I am happy- and who does it hurt anyway. I cannot willingly exchange my fantasy for the colourless reality on offer anyway.

Teddy bears are not in the world's eyes practical...they collect dust and do nothing - really. But in my world they reach in an instant - deeper inside someone in ways I cannot understand. I saw it for myself yesterday- an old woman come beside me in the library and ......a child walked away.

The bear I am making above is a tiny one- of the Anime style...funny and goofy and such a joy to create . I hope once sold - he will add some sparkle to someone's world....and Yes - it is a He . How do I know?...ahhh...he whispered it to me as I sewed.

I will post a picture once he is done.Let me know if anyone out there wants to buy him and offer him a new home.