Thursday, 30 June 2011

Stellenbosch Quilt Festival 2011

Jen is at the Stellenbosch Quilt Festival this week...from the 1st-7th July...for any of our followers in South Africa this week, pop by and say hello...

Our youngest helper to date is my niece Em, she was so excited to help out and wishes she could be manning the stand this week...

Stellenbosch is a beautiful region near Cape Town famed for its vineyards and the classic Cape Dutch buildings from the days of the first settlers. There are some wonderful restaurants with a wide choice of different cuisines...hopefully not offering too much distraction for Jen this week!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Tortoise Button Winners

Maria (pictured here in her beautiful traditional dress with intricate bead work) picked our 10 lucky winners from our tortoise button give away.

The following people have won a set of our tortoise buttons. We will be contacting you all shortly but you are welcome to email  us with your postal details.

If you would like to win an additional set of our heart buttons with your tortoises, post about our buttons and company mission on your blog and let us know that you have done so by emailing us details and we will send you two sets of button cards instead of one!

Bip Bip;
Roberts Filava;
Knitting dancer;
La fata giopi;


Thank you for helping us to raise awareness of our company and as a direct result, enabling us to create employment for our wonderful team of women in South Africa.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Three Sweet Skirts and a Tutorial

I made the first of these skirts last night...the medium sized one is for a 3 month old. The teeny tiny one is for a preemie twin (her twin is a boy so I have to figure out what to make for him next) and it will literally just be to cover her nappy (diaper) when she is in a baby grow (onesie?). The largest is for a friend's 5 year old and I hope to have some photos of her in it tomorrow to put up here.

I made a tutorial as I was going along (mostly for myself because in between skirt 1 and 2 I managed to forget a vital step and ended up unpicking an entire line of stitches!) but here are the easy steps if you are interested:

Measure the intended skirt-wearer or beg plead and cajole their very busy and exhausted parents to do it and email them to you!
My 5 year old has a waist of 54cm (just over 21 inches). So I cut a rectangle out of my main fabric that was approximately twice as wide as this measurement (110cm/43inches) by 26cm/10inches (skirt length depends on your preference). Then for the ruffle I cut a long narrow rectangle of 7cm/3inches x 140cm/55inches (again you can vary this depending on how large you want your ruffles to be).
So I ended up with this:

Next, to seal the edges and because I don't have a serger, I ironed all my long edges over twice and pinned them:

Then I sewed a straight line down them using a green thread in the bobbin that matches the ruffle fabric.

Once that was done, I attached the ruffle to the bottom of the main skirt piece with pins. I pinned the two extreme edges first and then pinned the middle and then just tucked in the ruffles as I went along - I had to unpin it once to get it more or less right...I am not too fussy about them being even or at regular intervals but they came out relatively uniformly...

Next I pinned the two short ends of the skirt together with the right sides of the fabric facing each other and sewed to create the skirt tube. I did not finish off the short ends as it was the selvage end of the fabric but did press the seams open.

I created a casing for my elastic waistband by turning the top down (twice the width of my elastic so that I could create a ruffle top as inspired by the super creative Jess of Craftiness Is Not Optional in her gorgeous Ice cream social dress tutorial). I sewed a continuous line around the top mark for the elastic and then almost all the way around for the bottom (the middle line of stitching in the picture is from where I turned over my edge) - leaving a space to feed the elastic through:

Which I did by attaching a safety pin to the elastic and feeding it through, bunching up the fabric as I went along:

Next I sewed the ends of the elastic together using 2 lines of zigzag stitching.

Then sealed up the opening, making sure to hold the fabric taut against the elastic so that it doesn't pucker:

Trim all the loose ends and press the ruffles down and press down the seam...and then...drumroll please...

...take ages deliberating over choose the perfect Incomparable buttons to sew on your new creations to make them entirely unique...
I chose an ice cream & cupcake for my medium size skirt:

a teeny green bird for the small skirt:

and have yet to sew on the buttons for my big girl skirt - I'm deliberating between a gathering of ladybirds and a collection of Incomparable hearts and flowers:

What would you choose? I think I'm more inclined towards the softer pastel shades on this lovely material.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Tortoise Stitch Pattern

Inspired by our French 'tortue' Jen has created this cute stitch tortoise on linen. And the good news is he now has healthier eating Incomparable flower to replace all those ice creams and cupcakes!

Here is a pattern you can print out and use...ours is teeny. He is the first in a set of mini blocks we are Jen is making.

Stitch him onto pockets, on purses, as small blocks of interest in quilts, on tee shirts, the side of a hat....send us pictures of what you have done with your stitched picture...and we will post about him, as long as he is eating an Incomparable flower, or reduced fat cupcake, or Incomparable low calorie ice-cream cones....we will send you a free card of tortoise buttons!, how's that?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

French Tortoises have Great Taste

Took some pics of this little guy while on my stopover in France...he is displaying very good taste - in Incomparable ice-cream on a cone...

...and Incomparable cupcakes!

He has inspired us to hold a giveaway...50 of our tortoise buttons will be looking for new homes...that's 10 cards (5 Buttons each) to 10 lucky value $100.

All you need to do is follow our blog and comment on this post.

This give away will end on Tuesday 28th June at midnight.

Disclaimer: No tortoises (French or otherwise) were harmed during the taking of these photos! ;-)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Home Sweet Temporary Home

I am finally home...back in Oxford with my husband while he snores away after being up all night for a hand-in is studying here for the year. It is nearly summer holidays (although you would be hard pressed to tell that from the weather alone!) and the end of his course is just around the corner so he has plenty of work at the moment - my timing could not have been better! 

Mark's folks were over visiting from South Africa when I arrived back so we did a few of the touristy things with them this weekend...above is a picture of the Radcliffe Camera - a 5 minute walk from our front door!

This is a view down the main street where all the high street stores can be found - its so quintessentially British - no shopping malls like we have back home & restricted car access - I love it! (except when it is raining or I've purchased something heavy and would prefer to have a car parked nearby but there are no cars for us this year and I am getting used to the concept of public transport)

Below is University College - no undergrads here - you have to be invited to sit the exam and its full of some of the greatest minds in the country - truly humbling.

In between catching up with all of our wonderful new friends we have made this year and spending time with Mark's parents, I found the time to be reunited with my sewing machine.

I tried my hand at a few things completely new to me (making up a pattern & smocking) and a few others I am still really new at (sewing for a start!)...and managed to come up with a sweet little baby dress with what I refer to as a yoke style neckline is a little short (so I am going to make some matching pantaloons to go over a nappy) and is riddled with errors but I'm pleased with my efforts and am going to make another and try my hand at making a tutorial for it if anyone might be interested? Promise to do it properly this time - for instance I will get the iron out and use it...our rented flat is literally shoebox-sized and in order to get the ironing board in position, I have to be stationed on the landing, plus there is something wrong with the iron and it keeps making all the switches trip - but I will give it a try!

Here is a view of the back of the dress...

And of course this post would not be complete without a few close ups of the teeny flower buttons used along the front for decoration and the larger Incomparable flower button used for the closure...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Harry Hippo & Friend Ollie the Oxpecker

This is Jen's latest little felt African hippo...he likes to wallow in the mud. His best friend is Ollie the Oxpecker who helps him with his bathtime by eating the ticks and parasites off of Harry's hide!

You can make one too by printing out this template - Harry is just slightly longer than my hand from palm to end of fingertips. I drew the ears and tail too large - so follow the dotted line when you are cutting yours. (The ears and tail attached to the body in this template are purely for show! Don't cut them out along the piece of felt for the body - he just looks cuter with them drawn in!)

Stitch on your buttons for a nose, Ollie the Oxpecker and give Harry a wide smile and some teeny eyes.
Then stitch your ears and tail...we also gave him 3 little x'es on his behind...

Then blanket stitch around your two body pieces, leaving enough of a gap to put your filling into - fill him up - he is a fatty by nature so be extra generous...and then finish off your stitching and close him voila

cuteness personified!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Crazy Italian Chick!

I am on my way to join my husband at last in the UK but decided to spend a few days en route enjoying some of the warmer weather that Europe is offering at the moment (its grey and miserable in Oxford!) in the south of France.

Today we decided to head across the border to explore a bit of Italy...isn't this an exquisite hillside town - their buildings are literally clinging to the rocks - an amazing feat of engineering...and rather picturesque too.

We made it to San Remo and then headed back via Villefranche-sur-mer - another charming town by the sea on the French side.

Our Italian agent, Alessio is fortunate enough to call this beautiful part of the world home.
Today we are taking some inspiration from his design team.

Picture this cute bird hanging from a mobile...sure to keep adults children enchanted for hours!

We love his crazy hairdo and groovy nature...'gracias' for the inspiration Alessio, Giovanni and the team...ciao!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Featured - Creative Knitting

Both of these articles featured in Creative Knitting Magazine. The buttons shown above are a range from our 2-inch button selection.
The pattern below uses our Big 5 buttons for this little boy's wild cardigan.

These were featured in 2009 (January and September) - yes its been a couple of years but its the first time we've seen them.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Lovely Material

I have just been home in Johannesburg for a few weeks while trying to sort out my visa (definitely a lot of hard work after spending about 3 of the first 5 months of our marriage away from my husband) so that I can finally go and live with my hubby while he is studying (again!) in the UK. I must say I have been missing him almost as much as far more than I've missed my sewing machine and cannot wait to get back.

While in SA, just had to fill my luggage to well over my weight allowance top up my empty suitcases with all this beautiful fabric bought from  Arthur Bales. Oh and had to work on my own weight too with a stop at their marvellous coffee shop. If that lemon meringue pie could travel, it would have displaced some fabric!

Yes, got to love polka dots...and such fresh spring colours.
Cannot wait to get home on Friday and see my dearest heart...and I have a few plans for all of these too...will keep you posted...

Friday, 10 June 2011

Quick! Run & Hide! ''do-you-think-he-saur-us?!''

The newest addition to our felt-family is this ferocious friendly green dinosaur!
If you would like to make one for your own use, the pattern is here for you to print out:

Cut 2 pieces for the body and 1 for the ridge. He is roughly the size of my hand from my wrist to the tips of my fingers. This is what you should have:

Lay him out as you want him...we gave him some extra 'personality' with some of our teeny flowers along his these on first as well as giving him a wide smile and some eyes...

Then we cross-stitched his ridge to both body pieces because we like the look of that stitch but you can do a simple straight stitch...and continued all the way around with a blanket stitch - leaving a gap to fill him, and then closing him up once he is as plump as you would like him to be... to make another one so that my nephew and niece don't start WW III over him!

Luke says " dinosaur, dinosaur eating fruit and leaves, chew them up and spit out all the seeds"

Emma says "dinosaurs lived long ago when the world was new, some of them were very big, very scary too. Some of them liked plants to eat on the ocean floor, others would rather eat another dinosaur."

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