Beautiful things for you and your home!

Lots of homely thoughts on sewing, baking, papercrafts, gardening and all the things that go towards making your house a home

Friday, 23 December 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Another project borrowed from the fabulous Debbie Shore. These little Christmas trees were supposed to go into some cute mini tin buckets that I found but the template I cut out ended up being a bit small so I need to make some more that are a little bit bigger for those.

Because it came out a bit smaller than planned I decided to fix a ribbon on the top and hang it on my bureau. I love the freshness of the gingham fabric with this shape. I think this, combined with the pale turquoise of the little buckets I bought, will look lovely. That's the plan, anyway :)

Hope you like it! Once again, all thanks goes to Debbie. She has her own website at which is well worth a visit. The forum is friendly and knowledgeable and a nice place to visit.

Merry Christmas! x

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Just a quick post to say sorry for the lack of posts recently. We've been having a bit of a broadband issue so with that, and trying to get things done for Christmas, it's not been all that feasible to post. Hopefully this will now be rectified!

Thanks, and if I don't speak to you before, I would like to wish everyone a very merry, and peaceful Christmas.

Love, Maxi x

Monday, 12 December 2011

Journal Your Christmas - Part 2

I'm already way behind with this project. I haven't even read the last couple of prompts although I have downloaded them so that I can when I get a minute!

The prompts themselves are a good exercise in journalling if that's something you struggle with in your scrapbooking, but don't think you can't do this class if you really aren't one who wants to put many words on a page. I've seen examples of other participants whose pages don't have much journalling and they look just as fabulous, focussing on the image side.

I think in the end I'll probably end up with a fair bit of the wordy stuff, probably an off shoot of being a writer, but that's fine with me. That's assuming I get around to putting the remaining pages together and getting the words actually on them! For the moment, the earlier pages are done, but the last week or so isn't. I've been scribbling the journalling in a notebook for when I have time to transcribe it to its rightful place.

As for the photos, I've decided that it's going to be easier (not to mention cheaper) to put in an order for all of them once I'm done. I did think about printing them out at home in order to make it look a bit more complete as I went along but I've decided the more economical way is better. In the meantime, I've made a folder in my Pictures folder called 'Journal Your Christmas 2011' and am putting the photos I want to use in there. I'm putting the relevant day in the picture's title so that when I come to it, I can go through quickly and put them into the right order and get them on the right pages (hopefully!).

Friday, 2 December 2011

Felt Flower Cushion

A while ago I saw Debbie Shore advertising her latest DVD (at the time, she since has a new one out) which was about making cushions. Now, whilst I've made plenty of cushions over the years, I love getting inspiration and seeing how others do things. I don't think you can or should ever stop learning. One particular cushion caught my eye. It was covered in floppy felt flowers and looked fabulous! I'd seen similar things in the shops but at ridiculous prices. It clinched the deal and off went my order!

I've now finally got around to making my first flower cushion. The centres of the flowers were finished off with faux pearls. I hope you like it!

Debbie now has her shop online and also puts up free videos on You Tube showing various projects and how to make them. Go and have a look here. I highly recommend it!

I really enjoyed making this cushion, although I had a couple of false starts getting the flowers on but once you get the knack it's ok. I'd also probably recommend a walking foot to put the two sides together if you have one. I didn't use one this time but I might do next time as the felt did want to 'stick' a bit.

I'd love to hear your comments so feel free to say hi below!

Happy sewing!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Journal Your Christmas

A short while ago I signed up with a class at . Shimelle Laine is a fabulous scrapbooker who inspires and encourages all who read her blog, take her classes and watch her videos.

Every year Shimelle provides a class called Journal Your Christmas. It was something she began originally as a private project several years ago to 'take back Christmas'. Like many of us, the commercialism of the whole thing had begun to sour things and this was her way of telling the Big Boys, "Err, actually, no, I don't think so. This is my Christmas and I'm going to do it my way, thanks very much." The following year she made it into a class, and has done every year since. And the cool - and very unusual - thing is that once you join, you can come back the following year and do it again for no extra charge. And the year after that, and so on.

This is my first year of doing it, and I'm excited to get involved. Like Shimelle, and many others, I'm not happy with what Christmas has become, starting in September and pressurising people to spend more and more on the latest toys, food and goodness knows what else. That's not how it's supposed to be. At least it's not in my book.

Every year, Shimelle writes a manifesto for the class. I've posted this year's below.

You can change the manifesto to suit yourself  but I think it pretty much says all it needs to just as it is. So it's printed out and ready to go in my journal.

I'll let you know how I'm getting along with the project and I'd love to hear your comments if you're taking the class too - or even if you're not! If it's the latter but you think you might be interested you can find it here

Have fun making memories :)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Believe in yourself

A short while ago, during an episode of Paperclipping I discovered Elise Blaha's blog. Her musings include lots of gorgeous crafty goodness together with thoughts and feelings, especially lately.

You see, Elise is one of the many people who has a loved one in a war zone. Her husband is in the middle of his deployment. And right now she's moving apartment. Anyone who's ever moved knows all the fun and games that entails; all the people you have to notify, all the things you have to change, buy, alter and arrange. When you've got used to living as a couple, you rely on each other for your own skill sets - he/she can do this, and I can do that, so it works fine and halves the load (well, hopefully!). But now Elise is having to deal with things she wouldn't ordinarily have got involved in - and she's finding she can do it. And I think she's a little surprised at this, and I know how she feels. It can be surprising.

It's a wonderful post that I really enjoyed reading and I think you will too. You can read it here.

I also found the post really poignant because someone I care about very much is going through a similar situation - different circumstances, but similar situation. Depsite being intensely capable at a lot of things, including being a fantastic mother and a wonderful nurse prior to that, she doubted her other capabilities. But gradually she is learning that she's entirely capable of handling whatever she needs to. More than capable in fact.

If you believe in yourself, it's amazing what you can do.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Travel Journal - How to!

A while ago my friend was going on holiday abroad and the idea was that I'd make her a travel journal which she could fill in on her return. Pockets for goodies collected, and spaces for photos taken would all be included. As it turned out, the holiday didn't go exactly to plan with one of the children getting quite ill which lasted for much of the week. Obviously this limited their plans and, although still a break, rather took the shine off it. A travel journal to remember this suddenly didn't seem like such a good idea.

A new plan was needed!

For half term they had booked a week down in the West Country, self catering with no real plans to do too much other than relax and walk and explore a bit. Hoping that circumstances wouldn't repeat themselves (which I'm glad to report they didn't) I went ahead and created a travel journal for them to fill in for this trip instead.

Last Christmas I was given a couple of paper pads and I chose one of these to use as the basis for this album as the colours were jolly and bright and seemed to suit the coastal area that they were visiting.

This is the finished result

I wanted a weathered sort of look for the covers, and they needed to be quite sturdy so I took some mountboard I had, and cut two pieces 6" x 12". I spent some time wondering what size to do. My friend takes a lot of pictures, and although there was no way a book was going to accommodate them all, unless I did a big 12x12 album, I still wanted to be able to get a few on a page withouth compromising on the portability of it. So 6x12 it became.

For the covers, I painted a layer of 'seasidey' colour blue acrylic paint on both and let them dry. I then put a layer of PVA glue on and also let it dry. After that on went a layer of white acrylic. I then let it dry a little and chased it along with a heat gun. The heat from the tool made some areas crack and bubble like paint peeling off on old doors or boats.

Sticker letters were then put on for the main title but I didn't feel they were showing up quite enough so I outlined them with a very fine liner (like those that come with Promarker sets). I didn't have enough letters in one colour to the do the sub title so it became a mix and match affair which worked ok as the ribbons I chose to go on the binding were colours that matched those letters. It was almost like I'd planned it (!) :)

Each page was made from one 12x12 sheet folded in half and creased neatly and then glued down. When all of these were done, I put them together using a large coil from Zutter and the Bind It All machine.

Folding and glueing

Once all the pages were piled together (just before I bound them) I realised they needed something a little extra. Out came a purple ink pad and around it whizzed, finishing off the edges just right.

Purple edges!

The trip away was for a week so I made a little tag for each day on which could be journalled what they did on that particular day, or what they ate, or what they saw - or whatever they felt like writing!

I just cut a plain piece of cardstock down and stamped it with the day and some lines to write on.

These were then stuck on the relevant day's page in the journal.

Once these were in, it was time to start decorating! I pulled out some of the embellishments that had come with the paper pack...

cardstock embellishments

But I also pulled out some other travel themed embellishments I had in my stash, such as phrases and added some of these, like the 'Are we there yet' which I believe was from a Die Cuts With A View collection. As the trip involved about a 5 hour drive, there was always the chance that this question might be asked!

I also made a set of cards, similar to the date ones , with each person's name on it. These were then tucked into one of the pockets created within the journal and that way each person can have their own thoughts on the holiday recorded.

Once I'd decided how to do it, the journal itself came together fairly well over the course of a few evenings. I hope you like the idea. If you decide to do something similar, don't forget to leave me a post and link to your blog! I'd love to see :)

Monday, 31 October 2011

Shimelle's Pretty Paper Class - and I'm invited!

And so are you! Everyone who has the slightest interest in pretty paper and also doing some stash busting! I'm so excited about this class! I'm partly doing it to help me jump into a big scrapbooking project and also because I really want to make an impression on some of the stash I have built up over the years. It's not like I have a tonne but a good proportion of it has been sitting around for a few years so needs to be tweaked and twizzled into something fabulous. And I know just the girl to help me do it!

I'll keep you posted as to how I get on!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hair clip/Corsage/Brooch

I had fun making this little cute clip. It's using felt, tulle and vintage buttons. And the tulle has sequins on it. I mean, what more could you want?

Some of the cutting was a bit fiddly, even though I used a die, it doesn't cut the net too well so I had to help it a little. This gives it a slightly more random and certainly more individual feel because if you make more than one, it's unlikely you'll cut it in exactly the same manner again. But that's what so fab about handmade isn't it? The individuality of it.

I finished the piece off with a salon style clip which means it can be worn in the hair, as a brooch or as a corsage on a bag, etc. Whatever you feel like on the day! And if you feel differently the next day you can move it around to suit!

I think it's a sweet little piece and plan to make another soon, probably in white - a kind of wintery theme there I suppose!

I'd love to hear your views on the clip, and if you have any other ideas or suggestions!

Love maxi x

Monday, 24 October 2011

Christmas Cards for Parentals

You know one of those 'seemed a good idea at the time' things. Well this seems to be turning out to be one of those. The Parentals have been very brilliant for various reasons over the past few years (not that they weren't before, but you know what I mean) and until we win the lottery I like to think up little things to do to show our appreciation.

The latest thing was to make their Christmas cards for them to send. As the number was more than expecting, I had a change of plan and decided to use a CD I'd got with a magazine. It's 'Snow Much Fun' and came with Quick Cards a few months ago. I'd never used a CD before but it was pretty easy - even for me! With hubby assisting with the printing I soon had a little pile of goodies to start applying.

I rummaged out some card blanks, spent an evening in front of the tv snipping out the main topper with deckle scissors which a) went along with the drawn border and b) hid a multitude of sins, then set to it.

All was going well until I ran out of blanks half way through. Of course, I can't find any the same now so the current batch are being made out of cream rather than the pearlised goldy tinged colour in this batch. But there we are. These things happen don't they? :)

Hopefully Mum, and the recepients, will like them.

Now just have to finish the next 25 and then make a start on my own!

Happy Crafting!


ps - I'm in need desperate need of space so please feel free to hop on over to my shop where I've dropped all prices!! www.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Alterations and Gifts

Having started out by measuring, cutting and pressing various pairs of jeans into submission and getting them the length they need to be, I was a tad irritated to find that my pack of denim needles had gone walkabout.

Well, I thought, how bad could it be...If anyone finds the other piece of my needle, do let me know.

So, with that project set aside for now until can get a pack of suitable needles, I turned to the next one on the To Do pile. A set of tea towels for my parents' kitchen. By chance I'd found a remnant very similar to their kitchen blind fabric. It's a gorgeous weight cotton and was far cheaper than you would pay for a decent set of tea towels (especially one that had a 'name' on!)
I'd hoped to get enough for a couple of fabric trivets out of it too but it wasn't to be. So, some snipping, folding and pressing later I came up with a set of three new tea towels for their kitchen.

Tea towels!

Obviously it's just a simple thing, but I think they look really nice, and it's a fairly quick little gift to make up. Probably even quicker if you have an overlocker - but I don't, hence the double hem folding and pressing.

I had thought to keep them as part of their Christmas present, but I'm absolutely useless at keeping things back! Once I've made them, I have to give them!

Hope they like them! We're going up there for dinenr later so I expect I'll get the chance to give them a test :)

Hope you are having a great Saturday!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

I Heart Buttons

This is a project I've had in my Inspiration book as a doodle for some time. I've even had the fabric for it cut out for a while - it was just the actual sewing bit I hadn't got around to! Then on Sunday I had a pretty good flare up of my fibromyalgia which meant all the other things I'd planned to do went out the window.

When I can, I try to use these times at least sort of productively so I therefore spent an enjoyable while swotting up on roman blinds, curtains and cushions from the Debbie Shore DVDs (highly recommended if you haven't seen them - she makes it far less scary than it can otherwise sometimes seem!) Although I have made curtains before. it's been so long I lost my confidence a bit.

With the rest and painkillers helping me along, I began to feel a little more human and so I did some hand sewing - and seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take to sew on all those buttons! Still, I wasn't going anywhere so it didn't really matter.

I Heart Buttons

The main fabric is some upholstery weight cotton with a self fabric detail that I had left over from a screen I made years ago. The buttons are all out of my Mum's button box which she donated to me a while ago, so they're nice and vintage with various ones coming off our baby clothes, etc. There are so many beautiful fabrics out there but it does feel good making something pretty out of things you already have. A totally 'free' project!

Yesterday I went into Next to have a quick look around (new store) and noticed that they have various home dec items featuring buttons so not only was my project free, but also bang on trend!

Hope you like it and I'd love for you to leave a comment if you do!

It's Electric!

On a previous post I mentioned my lovely old Singer that was my first ever Sewing machine. Whilst on the forum of the fabulous Debbie Shore's website, we got to chatting about how old hand crank machines had been converted to electric. I mentioned that there was an advert for it in the instruction manual that had come with my machine, and several people were interested to see it so here it is:

My nan's old machine (a more industrial version) had been a treadle originally but had been converted to electricity - and blimey, did that thing go! Of course, that never stopped me as a child sitting on the floor and playing with the treadle. Happy memories :)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Fruit muffins and Maltbread

Baking time yesterday! I still have another cake to bake, which I ought to go and do in a minute. It's a tea bread and the dried fruit should be nicely stewed by now! I'll report back on that one later. In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in the goodies already in existence.

Severely depleted number since yesterday!

I'm quite a fan of making muffins. Definitely more the making of them than the eating of them, which suits my hubby just fine as then there's more for him. They are so quick to make up, you don't need any equipment like you do for fairy cakes (although they are my fave!) and you can pretty much just chuck in what you like as the 'extra'.

That's exactly what happened here. I had some grapes that were beginning to lose their firmness and some dried apricots that needed using up so I just mixed up the basic mix I always use and bunged in the fruit. The grapes went in whole and I snipped up the apricots with some scissors into more 'bite size' pieces.

Between hubby and a visit from my parents earlier today, they seem to have been depleted in numbers so I'm taking that as a good sign!

Also on the agenda yesterday was a new recipe from the 'To Try' file.

Deeply Dippy

This was looking really fab until I had to open the door (it was either that or no tea!). Then it took on a rather dippy appearance (and yes, I realise that with that caption, I've probably rather dated myself!). Still if the proof is in the pudding then the evidence suggests that a verdict of 'yummy'! It's definitely gone into the 'make this again' folder. Although next time I'll try and keep the oven closed for the full amount of time.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Kindle cover

A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to receive a Kindle for my birthday. I'm really a big 'paper' book fan - and have plenty of them to back up my love of them :) However, I do recognise how useful ereaders can be in today's world.  As I have a novel out on this format and my non fiction book is also available as an ebook (as well as paper) it's probably right that I should have one so that I can have the same experience as my readers.

It seems that covers for these things are really quite expensive so I felt that making one would be the best option. I looked around for some patterns but couldn't really find one I liked. I knew that I wanted a sort of envelope style so after some twiddling around I made a paper pattern and went from there.

The Kindle is also used by Hubby so I wanted to make sure that whatever fabric I chose was fairly unisex - seems a bit unfair for him to have to pull out a beautiful flowery design! We also both wanted something fairly bright so that it was less likely to get put down and left. I finally found a suitable fabric and set about creating!

I found another FQ in my stash that I could use for the lining that included some of the same colours. I put a layer of wadding in between so that the device is protected. I probably would have used a thinner weight if I had it but I only had the thicker size to hand and by the time I pressed things together, etc it actually worked out really well. It's not bulky but it does give a nice amount of protection.

The top flap is secured with a strip of velcro. And yes, it did end up at a little bit of an angle! I can only say that I was a bit tired. It was a bit of a whoops but I realised that my label would actually cover this completely anyway so I opted to leave it.

I ended up with a funky, bright cover that gives a nice amount of protection to the Kindle without making it bulky. And it cost me a lot less than those in the shops - and of course it's unique!

I hope you like it :) 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Your Singer Story

Just a quick little post which might interest you if you have an older Singer sewing machine. With the company celebrating its 160th birthday this year, they are encouraging owners to share their 'Singer Stories'. You can also enter the serial number of your machine (if it's prior to the 1970s) and find out what year it was made. A PDF link will then appear and you can print a commemorative certificate. It's quite cute and something nice to keep if you and your machine have some history together!

I need to take a picture of mine to put on here but having just entered the serial number I've discovered that mine was manufactured in 1929, the year of the Wall Street Crash that helped kick off the Great Depression. It arrived at our house probably in the very early 80s or late 70s when my Nan bought it for me from the local paper as my first machine. She was a seamstress by trade and taught me how to sew my first items, although I wish now that I had paid better attention of course! I remember the day it arrived and was set up on the dining table. I opened the case and that wonderful smell of polished wood and machine oil hit me. It was in fantastic condition and sewed beautifully. It makes you wonder though, doesn't it, what life did it have before it became my very first machine? In those intervening 50 years, who had it and what did they create with it?

Wonderful graphic courtesy of the Graphic Fairy Blog

Sunday, 25 September 2011

First Past The Post

Well, here it is. My first post on this new blog. I'm pretty new to the blogosphere but have gained so much enjoyment and learned so much from the many wonderfully creative people out there that I felt it might be fun to join in!

My introduction to blogs - and yes I know i am soooo late to the party - has come through podcasts. Around 2004 or 5 my husband bought me an ipod nano. I'm not really technology based so he knows he's taking a risk when he does such things but he had his reasons. My sleep pattern is pretty bad but having found out I had a tendency to nod off when listening to audio books on my 'Walkman' (ok, stop laughing) he thought that he could bring me more into the present, with my present!

And he did. I rarely use my ipod for listening to music but I *love* my podcasts! If you haven't tried them, then I highly recommend them. Not only are they fun and informative, they make long journeys go far quicker (don't worry, it's not in those conditions I nod off!) but often have a linked in blog which brings me back to where I started.

Some of my favourite podcasts are listed below. I hope you enjoy them if you decide to give them a try!

*  The Paperclipping Roundtable
*  Sew Forth Now
*  Greenstitch
*  Scraptime

On a slightly different topic, the BBC History Magazine podcast is one that's also on my list. Lots of interesting interviews and it's now gone weekly! Highly recommended!

I hope that you've enjoyed this post. I'm totally new to this but I'll do my best to get better and hopefully provide some degree of entertainment, information and fun!

Wish me luck! xx