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Handmade for Elma

Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Photography Sewing

Ma petite theriere {handmade for Elma}

13/05/2016

Having a pile of gorgeous fabric stacked up on my desk has proved irresistible. It’s been very pretty to look at on my working from home days but it’s been even more fun to dive in and start sewing. And even though I’m not in the market to fully participate in May is for Makers, mostly because I have half a hundredweight of indie designer patterns already that I really need to put to good use, I love the concept and it seemed the perfect nudge to get me started on my summer sewing, and to start with a pattern I’ve never made before.

So Citronille’s Susanne it was.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Liberty Print Tana Lawn Elevenses

It’s a very simple pattern, just six pieces, but the construction is really clever and it all comes together to make a lightweight billowy dress that’s perfect for the hot weather we had last week before I’d finished making it and probably won’t see again until September.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Liberty Print Tana Lawn Elevenses

Most of the children’s clothes I’ve made have been from Oliver + S patterns which have rather spoiled me both in terms of holding my hand step by step and in producing clothes with a beautiful finish inside and out. Citronille’s Susanne isn’t hard to make by any stretch of the imagination, but it does expect you to know how to put a dress together, and how to do a hem without too much help, and the internal finishing is left up to you.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Liberty Print Tana Lawn Elevenses

 

I like things to look as tidy on the inside as the outside, and I want things to be able to withstand daily life as a dress for a three year old so I’ve tried to be as tidy as I can. On the sides of the yoke I wrapped the seam allowance around on itself and sewed it together, and on the side seams and the sleeves I used French seams, though I still haven’t quite figured out how to do French seams that go around a corner or involve a corner in some way – I sewed the French seam and then clipped the curve as if it were an ordinary seam which isn’t perfect but works ok – if you’ve got any top tips then let me know! And finally for the waist seam I made some bias binding out of the leftover fabric using the continuous bias binding method and used that to tuck away the gathers. I’d does add a little bulk, especially using double fold bias binding, but in Tana Lawn that’s barely noticeable, and I suspect it makes it much more comfortable to wear.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Liberty Print Tana Lawn Elevenses

The fabric is from my stash of bought on sale Liberty print, it’s Tana Lawn, which makes it all sorts of heavenly soft and floaty and the pattern is Elevenses, which Liberty itself only seems to have in the equally pretty red.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Liberty Print Tana Lawn Elevenses

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Liberty Print Tana Lawn Elevenses

And as for the small wearer? Well I know Elma always seems incredibly dainty and petite next to her siblings but she is actually also above average height for her age, just not off the charts tall. This is the age 4, cut exactly to the pattern and it’s a perfect fit. I did add in the optional elastic in the shoulders just to help it stay up, though I don’t think I’ll need to when I get to Kitty’s. In length it reaches to just above Elma’s knee; it reminds me of some of her Spanish dresses both in the cut and the length and it’s perfect for running around in the sunshine without tripping over yourself, which is exactly what this dress is for.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Liberty Print Tana Lawn Elevenses

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronelle Patterns in Liberty Print Tana Lawn Elevenses

I finished it on Wednesday night and hung it on the curtain rail in the lounge and from the moment Elma got down in the morning she was jumping up trying to reach it and desperate to try it on.  I’m told she wore it all day to go for a walk on a new nature trail, to do some pond dipping and to have an ice cream- the height of praise indeed!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

And if you would lend me a couple of minutes of your time (and you haven’t already voted), I am blown away over the moon happy to be a MADs Finalist for the Best Craft Blog category this year, and I would love your vote.  Anyone, anywhere is eligible to vote, just click on the banner below and look for Space for the Butterflies in the drop down menu for Best Craft Blog – thank you x

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Fluffy eggs and hidden root babies {handmade for Easter}

01/04/2016

Every Easter that we’ve been north with the family my inlaws have put on the most epic of epic Easter Egg hunts around their garden. The only other occasion when you’ll see this much chocolate in one place is inside a shop. The girls think it’s absolutely wonderful of course, they collect it all in, and count the eggs and admire the colours, and on Easter Sunday they can help themselves within reason (after that a degree of rationing kicks in for all our sakes, and my colleagues have been known to benefit from a share of the bounty!). But because the chocolate aspect has already been covered off, H and I try to give them a little non-food Easter treat, the more handmade the better.

So this year we found a rainbow pencil crayon each for the girls, and a book for Pip, and I made these:

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

The cutest, fluffiest Easter Eggs you could ever find.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

And what could that be hiding inside the eggs? Why three little flower root babies of course!

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

Several weeks ago I was playing around with wet felting with the children, and once we’d made various wiggly worms and they’d moved on to something else, I kept playing, wrapping layers and layers of pretty wool roving around the plastic inside from a kinder egg. It’s not a completely perfect egg shape I grant you, but it’s more egg shaped than anything else I had in the house at the time.

I found the best way to get a good felt was to wrap several thin layers around in different directions, then just sprinkle on a bit of hot water to start with and start gently patting. Once it got matted and damp all over, then I would hold it inside my hands and dip it into a bowl of hot water, squeeze gently as it came back out and then add soap directly to the egg. We’d started with our nice child friendly very gentle soap but that just didn’t cut it, and I had a lot more success once I moved on to washing up liquid (we have Ecover but anything ‘stronger’ would probably work even better).

I started by just stroking the fibres down in different directions, you want enough soap that it feels sudsy and then as the egg started to felt I could roll it around in my hands until it felt solid.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

I found adding extra layers part way through to be quite tricky, some people swear by building it all up a layer at a time and some say have all the fibre there at the beginning, it’s a bit of trial and error, but for me I think starting with lots of thin layers already built up works best, plus if you start with one colour and change to another then you get an egg that’s one colour on the outside and another on the inside.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make fluffy secret eggs

The pink egg is purple inside and the purple one is pink! The blue one actually has some other colours somewhere in the mix but I think they’re all hidden in the middle.  My other top tip is that you need more layers than you think you do.  The pink one was my experimental attempt and it has quite a few more layers than the other two so it’s nice and rigid once the kinder egg bit came out – the other two have slightly flappy lids.

Once the eggs were fully felted I rinsed them in more hot water and then left them to dry for a couple of days.  Then I took a pair of embroidery scissors and sniped them open.  The stitching around the edge is just blanket stitch and three strands of embroidery thread, a loop and a button from my button jar to keep the root babies tucked up safe and sound.  I didn’t make the root babies, I’d been trying to think of what to hide inside the eggs when I spotted them in one of our favourite shops and knew they were just the thing.  The Story of the Root Children has been one of our favourite bedtime stories for ages and it’s very apt at this time of year.

And to accompany the fluffy eggs H and the girls revealed their latest project, a whole clutch of beautiful eggs.  They’d blown them themselves (more Kitty and H than Elma!) and then dyed them with tissue paper and the results were amazing.  We had 10 in the end, strung up along the kitchen windowsills for Easter Sunday in all their gorgeous colourful glory. Definitely a craft to add to the repeat list for next year.

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Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

If you have a moment, I would truly love a nomination in the MADs and the BiBs blogging awards for writer, craft, or family/school days (all the details are here – short version: anyone can vote, you don’t have to blog or be in the UK and I will be eternally grateful if you do x).  And if you can’t quite decide for who to nominate in the hotly contested pre-school category, can I persuade you into taking a look at Clarina’s ContemplationsDear Little Daisy, Make Do and Push, or A Baby on Board all of which are completely awesome and wonderful 🙂

 

Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Kitty Knitting Photography Sewing

My Knitting Bag {handmade for Elma}

26/02/2016

I did say there might be a slight sense of deja vu to anything I made this week, and that’s probably because at the time of writing my post about Kitty’s project bag I was already being petitioned by a three year old for something similar – and when I was cutting out the butterflies for Kitty I’d realised that I had just enough fabric to make another butterfly bag, and cut out two extra panels.

And as sewing things up the second time is so much quicker than the first because you don’t have to keep referring back to the instructions, and in this case the instructions are so very nice and simple that I pretty much had them memorised, one evening of cutting out the other pieces and a murmured, “I’ll just go and start the first couple of seams”, turned into a finished project bag sat on Elma’s dining room chair the next morning.

Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

The accent fabric you might recognise, it’s the very last little bit of one of my Laura Ashley fat quarters from Elma’s twirly skirt. I didn’t have quite enough to cut it all out of one section so it’s pieced, but I figured that for the accent, which will usually be all scrunched up when the bag’s closed, that would be barely noticeable, and in all of my pictures you can only see it when the bag is stretched out open and empty.

Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

The lining is a batik print fat quarter that I found in the stash, in all of Elma’s favourite pinks and purples. I used it for the lining and then pieced together three 2 inch widths to make the ties. They are a little bit shorter than the pattern calls for, but they’re just long enough that the bag can be opened up completely and laid flat, and as Elma is only three I think it works in her favour too when she uses the ties to wear it as a backpack (which happens a lot); the bag sits nicely at her lower back, not dangling around her knees.Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

When I made Kitty’s the motivation was to give her somewhere lovely to keep her finger knitting (and apparently now her camera – all the important things together!), and with Elma it was to make sure that she didn’t feel left out.  Elma has watched us try finger knitting, and even played around with looping big chunky wool over her still tiny fingers but she doesn’t have any knitting of her own to speak of.  Instead her bag has played home to Orlan and Rain-or-Shine (her little dolls), a toy car, and a small plastic pony, which all sounds very sensible to me.

But what really makes me smile, is that when she refers to it, it’s always “my knitting bag”: she may be too little to do more than play but she knows that when the time comes she’s all set up to go!

Space for the Butterflies - handmade knitting bag

And because it was a week of finishing, or more acurately, because we drove two hours up to my in-laws in Yorkshire on Saturday, and by “we” I mean H, I had lots of lovely knitting time in which to finish not only Kitty’s latest cardigan (more on which another time because it’s still blocking) but also make some serious progress on H’s February Christmas socks.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks

These ones are just my standard recipe for socks for H; 72 sts on 2.5mm needles with a heel flap heel (I love the way the slipped stitches mix up the colours on the heel). It’s nice easy, knit without thinking knitting, and it lets all the beautiful colours in the yarn shine front and centre.  This is Wollmeise Twin in Pfauenauge which apparently means peacock, which makes perfect sense when you look at the colours.

Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks

And so on Sunday morning, while he went for a run, and Pip delighted and exhausted his grandparents in equal measure, I spent a very decadent hour curled up in bed with the girls tucked up next to me and knit and knit and knit until they were done.Space for the Butterflies - hand knit socks

H arrived home before I’d quite finished but they were done before he finished his shower so I’m claiming that as a draw.  And with that, I’m half way through his Christmas present knitting. Two pairs down, two to go, and then I can start on the Birthday knitting – maybe I need a new knitting bag for me?

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On

 

 

 

Crafty Ideas Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Handmade for Kitty Handmade for Pip Kitty Knitting Photography Pip Sewing

Hearts and Butterflies {handmade for Kitty, Elma and Pip}

19/02/2016

As of the end of last week I became the poster child for the power of subliminal messaging.  Or possible the power of liminal messaging, is that a thing? Anyway.  Ever since the calendar flipped over into 2016 I have spent my working days happily ensconced below Emily Quinton’s gorgeous pictures in this year’s Mollie Makes calendar.  They’re all lovely inspiring pictures (I may have taken a sneak peak into the year ahead) but February’s picture is so pretty and the crafting idea so simple, that after two weeks sat staring at it I was powerless to resist.

And so with Valentine’s day rapidly approaching I spent last Friday evening happily immersed in felt and ribbons and thread; listening to an audiobook and stitching away.

Space for the Butterflies - Valentine Hearts

The girls gave me some stacks of lovely soft wool felt for my birthday  (which I’m 99.99% sure came from Berylune) and I loved dipping in to it to choose the perfect colour combinations for each of my three, fairly heavily influenced by what they’d made a grab for the last time we were all playing felt.

For Kitty, a pale rose and a deep coral, for Elma, jewel-like pink and purple, and for Pip the same coral as Kitty but matched with a darker orangey red.  The ribbons are all from my stash too; I can’t remember where Elma’s purple velvet came from but in a moment of beautiful kismet I realised that the ribbons I’d chosen for Kitty and Pip were both free cover gifts from old issues of Mollie Makes.

Space for the Butterflies - Valentine Hearts

I cut little hearts from one of their pink and yellow watercolour paintings to write them little valentine messages, and when the hearts were sat on the breakfast table there were three tiny chocolate eggs in each (we’re just not that organised to have actually managed to buy hearts so H went for Easter as a fall back!) but somehow and quite mysteriously, by the time I came to take pictures of the hearts, all of the chocolate had disappeared!

Space for the Butterflies - Valentine Hearts

And the butterflies? Well Kitty and I have started to do a little finger knitting again.  We tried back in the autumn but unfortunately, tucking it back into a basket just wasn’t enough protection from the “assistance” of small siblings, and it kept being pulled undone, or tipped out all over the floor when the basket was needed as some crucial part of a castle or something.  We started again after Christmas with a new and very pink ball of yarn, kept safely wrapped up in a paper bag and tucked into my knitting bag between times, but I wanted Kitty to have somewhere of her own to keep it, and for that somewhere to be beautiful, just to add to the already great charms of all things wooly.

In short she needed a project bag, and armed with the great tutorial at In Colour Order I had a quick stash dive one afternoon, spent one evening armed with a rotary cutter, and another evening sewing, and made this:

Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

A lined drawstring bag, with two strings so that (a) it stays shut and (b) it can also act as a backpack on a five year old.  The main fabric came from a fat quarter I bought in a little craft barn on the road to Edinburgh (which dates it as at the very least, pre-Kitty).  I loved it at first sight and love it still and I’m so glad that I finally found a project that didn’t involve cutting it up too much. It’s been rejected for goodness knows how many projects over the years as being just too pretty to water down the impact of such a glorious flutter of butterflies.

Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

The accent fabric (and the fabric ties) are leftovers from a quilt that I made for one of our NCT friends, Heather Bailey Swing Toss in pink, and then the lining is what in yarn I’d call a semi-solid, is that the right terminology for fabric? Whatever it’s called, it’s a variegated pink and just the thing for my pink loving girl.

Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

It’s a great tutorial and really easy to sew up and I love how polished it looks as a finished bag, from the matching ties all the way to the nicely boxed off corners that make it so very good at standing up by itself.

Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

I left it on Kitty’s chair the morning after I’d finished it, tucked in so she wouldn’t see it until breakfast and as I got to the office a little video pinged in my text messages. Never has a bag been hugged so hard.Space for the Butterflies - Drawstring Butterfly Bag

So now all I have to do, is make one for Elma.  Déjà vu, coming to a blog near you, probably next week!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On

Crafty Ideas Designed by me Elma Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Elma Photography Sewing

A twirly princess skirt {handmade for Elma}

29/01/2016

A few weeks ago I got an email in my inbox that practically had me bouncing off the ceiling in excitement.

It started innocently enough; would I, by any chance, be interesting in working together on a craft project? – I love craft projects, so I would, and I read on.

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Would I, in fact, be interested in working with Laura Ashley to see what I could come up with to make from their packs of craft fabric fat quarters? Would I? – well never have my fingers felt so slow moving over the keys as when I typed out my ‘trying to play it cool but barely smothering the super-excitement’ reply.  We talked about ideas, I spent so long eyeing up the fat quarter packs on the website that the cookies kept advertising them to me on every other website for at least a week, and then last week a little silver parcel plopped onto the doormat and in it was treasure indeed.

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Laura Ashley was, I suspect, the Cath Kidston of my mother’s generation.  The fabrics were fresh and new and sought after and I still remember the matching Laura Ashley dresses that my sister and I had as our Sunday best for a couple of years (and she had again a couple of years later – the joys of being the younger sister!).  But while I may have a serious weak spot for Cath, nothing has dimmed my affection for Laura, so to get the chance to just play in their fabric collection.  I could have made a hundred different things with such pretty fabric but in the end I knew that for a whole host of reasons, perhaps in an effort to right the balance from my childhood, it was my littlest girl who should be the beneficiary.

I’d originally thought of making some sort of sundress, but when Elma and I opened up the parcel there was just one thing she wanted; a twirly princess skirt.  It was to be long, and it was to be twirly, and that’s all she cared about.  My plan was that if I was going to make something that couldn’t be handed down to Pip then it would have to last for as long as humanely possible.  And so I planned an adjustable waistband, echoing the maternity elastic of some of my pregnancy jeans, so that for now it could be a long twirly skirt, but one with definite room to grow!

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And this is the result: One almost a full circle skirt, made up of 14 panels cut from fat quarters (using all five from the duck egg pack and the two palest purple from the amethyst pack), and sewn together to create a spinning whirl of soft floral colour.  All the details on how to make it, what I used and how the waistband worked are over in my tutorial on the Laura Ashley blog (together with a fabulous tutorial for making a sewing machine cover from the very talented Esther at Inside Out & About that I really ought to try)

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Elma adores it.  She wore it, newly finished, for the photos, and then all that day, and then all the next one so that she could take it to show her playgroup teacher, and I’m pretty certain it’s done duty as part of pyjamas too.20160124-DSC_0056

Her happiness with whatever I made was always the chief motivation behind the project, but I’ll admit that when on Tuesday, when my tutorial appeared actually on the actual Laura Ashley website, I was ready to burst with happiness too – twirling all round!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday