There’s got to be something better than this

Nothing wrong with this batch of tablet pillows:

Nothing at all. 

They’re just a little dull. In an attempt to get rid of a huge bag of bean bag beans

I cut a whole bunch of fabrics 12 inches by 18, folded them in half right sides together for 9 inches by 12, then stitched the 12 inch edge and one nine inch edge using a quarter inch seam allowance.  

The third line of stitching requires pinning the seam to the fold first and leaving a gap for turning and filling. 

I hand stitched this one closed just roughly so I could test the amount of fill needed. I’ve made these before but never measured the amount! (The t’internet abounds with tutorials with pictures if you need more help). 

The plan was to make as many of these as I have filling then sell them for charity. 

As nice as the gingham and hydrangea fabrics are, the end result is a little dull so I got to thinking about multi fabric versions. I have 152 of these simple four patch with sashing blocks kicking around from my days of teaching at Liberty’s Sewing School in the mid to late nineties. I made samples to demonstrate (and sometimes students would leave their samples!) but never made them up into a quilt. Over the years I’ve considered all sorts of settings, the latest being some simple sashing then making baby quilts for charity. 

I may yet do that but donated six to the cause. Still a little dull so the next one had all different blocks:

Okay, they look a little goofy but they’ll do the job of holding your iPad steady on a table or in your lap. They could even be used for ‘real’ books. 

Luckily I have never had a problem selling any of my crafts when the proceeds go to charity. I’m thinking adult literacy might be a good cause. 

Plan A then: make enough to use the filling then use the leftovers for the baby (or perhaps wheelchair lap) blankets. 

The devil’s playground

I was pretty nervous last night when Himself and I settled in to watch LI. 

Handwork always calms my nerves and I am making a concerted effort to ditch the digital after supper so always have something lined up ready to grab when we are stretched out on the Natuzzi of an evening. 

I got all the outlining done by the first half but set this project aside to comfort Himself and be a real fan by watching my team. 

Dang but I wish I wasn’t off coffee at the moment! Actually that might be a good thing as snipping my Alabama Chanin projects for the final reverse appliqué step requires a steady hand. 

This is one of the many IWOM 5-0 birthday presents I am making for other people. You’ll have to wait until next month to see the first batch!

Make the blog great again


Clearing the craft room of all the supplies I will never use has taken a LONG time. Most bits have gone to the Girl Guides regional center (where troop leaders can ‘shop’ for what they need) — my fourth or fifth large haul that the lovely coordinator has come to collect in person — but a little more has gone to the attic for storage, this time my pearls and semiprecious stones and all findings. 

(And the needlework supplies are currently living in the guest room bathroom since we have no confirmed guests for the first part of this year).

What has not left is any fabric or clothes or scraps that are 100% cotton jersey. 

I have always admired Alabama Chanin clothing and projects. I’ve been messing with samples and small projects for a while, I’ve bought all four books, I’ve found a great shop for printing full size stencil templates to cut myself (my current currency being so awful vs the USD that I can’t justify buying them ready made at present) and am getting to grips with the whole entirely hand sewn philosophy. 

(T-shirt fired by stadium t-canon and caught by Himself last spring). 

For quite a few years I’ve said that when I hit the big five O I’d learn to knit. Properly. I can knit and purl and cast on and do a little cable. A portable craft that I can do in the sunroom was always the appeal, along with the end result of having something useful at the end. 
But, I just don’t wanna learn. I’m not really sure why. I guess it’s just that I don’t want to do it ENOUGH. I do fancy becoming a Natalie groupie. 

But, you come for the pictures, not the musings, right?

The gift of arthritis in my pinkies is one I’d like to return, but it is what it is. It will spread toward my thumbs and there’s nothing to do to stop it. I limit myself to about an hour a day of stencil cutting broken into two or three sessions. 

A blog name alteration is next on the list! I’m easing the regulation of not buying anything as eventually I’ll need long lengths for dresses and skirts but will always try to include supplies already to hand. 

The Family Silver

Been busy.

Back to whittling down the craft supplies again!

We are on a clutter busting jag here at Casa de IWOM. The amount of items saved ‘just in case’ as well as nowhere near sentimental value items, kitchen doubles and never used wedding presents that have left the building is staggering. We will never be true minimalists but are feeling the effect already of less stuff. It’s nice to know a trip to the loft space is no longer one fraught with danger.

The tiny IKEA greenhouse in the sunroom always seems like a good idea.

It is if one remembers to water the pots within….

Three partially filled cans of metallic spray paint in the garage, an assortment of ‘still life’ objects (some of which were taken OUT of the charity donation bags), a bandana to put over my nose and mouth,

and an early start day to allow for multiple thin coats

gave me the components for my installation.

I give you: The Family Silver.

Even if I had been allowed to register for a wedding list (‘that’s for X people’ apparently), I don’t know as I would have put any real silver items on it. All that polishing. 

Yes, we will be dusting AROUND this. 

Living up to the name


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The IWOM hasn’t had too many journeys yet this year — three weekend getaways in fact. None required significant hand luggage so it wasn’t until yesterday when I was packing for a wee solo trip I remembered that I’ve always wanted something to keep me better organised in the smaller of my two large Kate Spades.


Credit where credit is due — see above! There are dozens of free patterns on t’internet I’m sure but this is the link I’ve always had to hand. There are far more Fancy Dan versions with zippered bits and solid bases but this is all I needed just now.


Yikes. Not the best picture but it was thankfully sunny this afternoon so I’m not too upset. Natural Vitamin D is a little thin this time of year where I am. The purse organiser pattern at the site above called for two fabrics and two interfacings but I only used one on the check cotton as the other fabric was heavy black linen. I also added two inches to the height and four to the side (total) when I cut my fabrics.


Before sewing up the pocket pouches I put two pockets on the outside of the organiser.


Mine has four folded sections and I added a snap/popper so that it wouldn’t all come to bits when I took it out.



I’m rather pleased with this very easy to make accessory. I can see making a smaller one for smaller pocketbooks in future. Nothing more annoying than digging around in the bottom of one’s bag for a key item.

Aaaand isn’t that just a great First World Problem with which to end the day?!?

No better feeling


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than seeing a last row of a lot of boring background!


Scratch that. Snipping the canvas from your slate frame is a little bit better!


Just need one more like this — and the two top bits (I’m sure there is a technical name).

At the moment I’ve got a less than professional set up going on for the Rosslyn Chapel project:


I’m looking into getting some trestles similar to the ones I used when studying at the Royal School of Needlework. They do have them in their online shop but they are terribly overpriced. Beautiful yes, but I don’t need to be spending well over a mortgage payment for something that really does not cost that much to build. I appreciate the workmanship of course, but I also know how much the RSN tacks onto the goods sold in their shop based on the very high costs if their materials while I was a student there. Luckily I still had my connections at Liberty and bought a lot of my supplies there instead.

For those of you who don’t know, I was on the shop floor of the needlecraft and haberdashery department for two years, took a year off to study at the RSN then returned to teach in Liberty’s Sewing School, which was very different than the school there now.

I can’t track down any proper needlework trestles in this country but I do have a woodworking mate who has a cellar full of lovely oak bits salvaged years ago from area ships so printed off a few pictures of what I need, worked out the exact dimensions (based on what I’m using now, i.e. the actual prie deus propped up with bits of wood) and left it with him. We’ve met up again since to hash out a few more details (and I baked him an apple pie for a ‘consulting fee’) so he is letting it percolate in his brain for a bit.

I’d say men will do anything for me in return for my baking, but that would be a bit presumptuous  of me. It’s probably true, but still.


I can plod onward with the current set up — and darn well better, given my July deadline — but am taking a break to sort out the wools and make up some samples for the top parts.


Scottish stitch is leading the options at the moment, but requires very precise placement of the tent stitches. Best way to tackle this combination stitch is to do a little bit of the grid, then fill it in — if I recall. Luckily it is a cold day, due to be a yucky weekend and the next slate frame is laced up ready to go.


I do break one rule. We were not even allowed to have a capped bottle of water in the room at the RSN lest something get spilled on your frame or work. I’m of the opinion that you only had to have that happen once and it would never happen again, but they had some odd notions there. You were actually graded on the piece on which you learned the technique! I never liked that so often worked samples at home.

My tea or water bottle sits on the window cill and I’ve yet to have a mishap. I tend to stand up to drink and stretch my legs. I’m not as young as I was when I spent a year there…the joints stiffen up a bit more easily!

Why does this project go here? Well, the wool and canvas are leftovers from the mid 90s kneel project and the wood base units salvaged from a Catholic Church being turned into flats. I’m going to need to buy a piece of 10hpi canvas and get a plaque engraved with the date for the underside but other than that this project is just my time.


Time Capsule



For the past few weeks I’ve been investigating the capsule wardrobe life. I’m thinking of giving it a try for my whole life, not just my travel life. The IWOM is an expert packer for all countries, climates and lengths of time. Himself and I can travel to Madrid for a long weekend in nowt but a large rucksack and a Kate Spade tote. That also included work clothes for him since he stayed on several days at the office there.

I’m keen on the Project 333 method of dealing with your clothes. We don’t have easy seasons here where our hats are currently hung so some thought needs to be put into how I can go about it. I made a start by filling out a cool capsule plan worksheet while having breakfast in a cafe off Calle de Serrano to help me along.

I was the only person working with a pen.

While sitting in both the Iberian and British Airways business class lounges during delays and re-arranged flights (the perils of an IWOM), I thought about how I could take the Project 333 approach with my craft supplies.


It has been quite some time since I’ve sat and made jewellery for myself. Well, I’ve reknotted some of my pearls and had a few re-knots for pay (I’ve given up the bartering thing. Folk here just don’t get it). I think packing it up for a while seems like a plan.

I’ve kept out a ‘kit’ of everything needed for reknotting pearls and semi-precious stone necklaces as well as all my remaining pearls and semiprecious stones, several ‘nearly there’ projects that I might as well polish off and an assortment of fibre art jewellery materials already matched up with assorted findings — and those have a note with the directive to put away if I haven’t touched them by March 1.

I’ve a packet of cord, knotting thread, findings and tools appropriate for these projects. I’d estimate 85% of my stash sits in a couple big under bed storage tubs destined for the loft.

I never pretended to be a great maker of jewellery, though I enjoyed teaching a smattering of techniques over the years. I rather like things like French beaded flowers over bead weaving bracelets or the like. The pearls of course are a legacy of our two years in Hong Kong and I reknot my own strands the moment a little pull appears so as to keep my hand in. Those stay!

Out of sight — but not out of mind. I took pictures of everything packed away for reference. Once more bulk crafting gets squared away I’ll have room on the shelves to bring it back.

Or maybe give lots of it away!



How’s that workin’ for ya?



Not so good.

I’ve changed my mind completely on the method of improving six rather boring multi aperture frames for the office.


Yep. Simple covering with fabric. Google until you find a method you like. I used several for inspiration — none in particular hence no specific links for you.

My one tip would be to glue the inner edges, let those dry then glue the outer edges so that you can more easily pull the fabric for a snug, smooth fit.


I have an awful lot of black and white print fabrics, some of which have been around for a good long while. I think this one was from a shop on the Cape where I did a book signing and talk.

In November 2006.


I used the ‘L’ method when the pieces of fabric were not large enough, then switched to that method for the rest when the fabric wastage turned out to be less than doing it this way:


‘Course I think that L shaped cut of fabric only works when the pattern doesn’t need to match EXACTLY.


These six (or more — given I’ve set aside a few smaller single picture wood frames to get this treatment once we’re back from a weekend getaway in Madrid — or fewer) are destined for the very large empty wall over the desk:


Of course, we need to decide what to put in them, if they should be black and white, which  way to hang the rectangle frames…


and that’s why the sit here on the guest room bed. I may mix in a few ledge shelves or any number or travel finds that have yet to find a home in our home.


Stay tuned.

Little Bird Watch


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In order to get the highest numbers possible for this weekend’s bird watch — which I had to do on Sunday as the weather was wretched and there were so few takers on Saturday — I made a ground feeder and a small hanging fat ball feeder with odds and ends found in the garage.


Most of my feeders have large bird protection in the form of hanging baskets wired together to form a protective globe.


I included some holes for drainage.


Plan A was to take a few pictures this morning of my cheapie feeders in situ but no chance of that whilst Storm Henry is blowing through!

These add lovely bright spots of color in an otherwise drab February garden.

February. How did that happen…?

I’ve made several of each for fellow gardening friends. Since I’m not getting out to my garden today it seems like a good one for setting out the planting plan. Or hiding back under the covers. I’m a bit torn.