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‘Making’ Category

  1. Getting the quilt under way

    March 8, 2014 by sarah

    After my ‘Get to Know Your Sewing Machine’ class with Deb and Jeanne of Plain Stitch, I felt confident to start on the baby quilt. The cutting of the blocks was a little boring, the arrangement of the blocks was agonising (how many times can you procrastinate over the layout of tiny pieces of material?) but at least the sewing flew by as the blocks became strips which finally built into the quilt top. I wouldn’t say it is perfect but then only God/Allah can create perfection (my excuse anyway).


























    Then, with perfect timing, I saw a notice for Plain Stitch Open Day as they have just opened a work room in Wendover. So on Thursday afternoon I popped over and picked up some perfect material for the backing and edging and some lovely soft wadding. Now I just need to wait for the dual feed foot for the sewing machine to arrive so I can actual start the quilting process. I can’t wait to get some free time back and join one of the classes; perhaps next year.



  2. I’ve never felt better!

    January 10, 2014 by sarah

    I bought this lovely merino wool tunic/jumper in a charity shop a few months ago and I fell in love with the colour. I didn’t see at the time it had a hole near the bottom hem, but as it was a bargain and the money goes to charity when shopping in such shops, I didn’t feel hard done by. But I was wandering what I could do with the tunic until I flicked through a couple of books on embellishing clothes, a form of up-cycling. And this is applique in wool felt is what I ended up doing; half an hour of work and I have a totally personalised and cute top to wear! I am now tempted to embellish a few other slightly worn items…

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  3. Heart Felt

    January 7, 2014 by sarah

    Here are a quartet of heart shaped decorations from around our house. The red felt heart I made about 10 years ago, originally as Christmas decorations but I love them so much they spend the whole year on the wall in the bathroom. The drift wood heart I made a few years back after a holiday to Devon and Cornwall; I fell in love with the drift wood hearts that were for sale in the touristy shops but not with the attached price tags so I made my own. The ‘love’ heart is one of the favours I made for our wedding; the back is stamped with our names and the wedding date. The embroidered heart is on a card I made as a valentines card for my husband; I found it while tidying up over the New Year break.

    Do you have any recurring themes of decorations?





  4. 2014 Project number 2

    January 4, 2014 by sarah

    Part of my Christmas present from my better half was a sewing machine to replace a very old and knackered hand-me-down that was on its last legs. It had its first try out a few nights ago as I needed to shorten my new trousers for work. It worked like a dream! Isn’t it wonderful when you have been using a worn out piece of equipment past its sell by date then get the new version, it suddenly seems so much easier? This applies everything to sewing machines to cars to ultrasound machines. Thank you to Patchwork Corner in Hemel Hempstead for helping me chose the machine; they were very friendly and helpful. It is, however, a dangerous place for someone like me as there are piles of beautiful fabrics.


    So project number two for this year is to make a quilt. I am starting with a small quilt, which will hopefully be ready in time to welcome my new niece into this world and be taken half way round the world by my parents to her in Richmond. This will not be my first quilt. A long time ago, about 15 years ago, I made a quilt from scraps of material I found in my mothers sewing stash. It took me the whole long summer before I went to University but has been with me ever since and is still used almost daily as it lives on the bottom half of my side of the bed (my husband is always too hot so I need the extra layer on my side only). It is starting to look a little dirty (the cat likes it too) so this summer I will need to pluck up the courage and wash it. I love how every bit of fabric has a story to tell and particular meaning to me; there are scraps from clothes my mother made myself and my sister (including my prom dress and my sister’s communion dress) and the ones she didn’t get round to making, the curtain off cuts when I remember being with my mother choosing and buying the fabric and some fabric from old dresses she used to wear. I don’t remember the design process or even why I made it but I still the love the way it looks, that it is useful too and has personal meaning.


























    I have already bought some bundles of fabric to start the baby quilt but I haven’t decided on the colours yet. I don’t think it is giving anything away by showing them to you as I haven’t decided on which lot I am going to use. I think I was secretly buying for myself too, especially the yellow/orange set, so I guess that will be the next project after I finish the baby quilt. I have found another sweet fabric shop which is even closer to us. I had to drag myself away from it today otherwise I would of ended up with another bunch of fabrics. This little shop is upstairs in the ‘Barn Courtyard’ in Wendover.

    Have you got any projects lined up for this year?

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  5. Home brew

    December 19, 2013 by sarah

    I don’t know what it is about home made wine that attracts me. Maybe it is my thrifty Scottish side that likes the chance to make something out of (almost) free stuff that would normally cost good money to buy. Maybe it is the baking/making side. My husband claims he likes making it too, though inevitably I am the one who does all the work of making it. Drinking it, well that is a mixed bag. The elderberry wine that keeps winning firsts at the show is too sharp and tannin filled for me, but if it keeps winning firsts then I’ll keep producing it. But I do like a chilled glass of the dandelion wine and the bramble wine is passable. A few years ago we made cider and that was such a success that it didn’t last long at all! So this year we have 4 demi-johns of cider, 2 of apple wine (2 different recipes), one of bramble, one of damson and soon to be put in a demi-john will be grape wine. Yes, you read right – grape wine. But these are free grapes from the garden at work. I wonder what Chateau Wheelhouse 2013 will be like? We will have to wait a year at least to find out. That is the thing about homemade wine; if it doesn’t taste good when you first try it, ignore it for another year or two then try it again as it will taste completely different.

    Bottoms up!




  6. A Scrapbook finished!

    October 20, 2013 by sarah

    I have finally finished my first scrapbook, eight years after the holiday that inspired it! I started it soon after the holiday but wasn’t happy with my work flow for the photographs so everything stalled. Now I work with Lightroom, I can process the photos so much faster and I get them printed off in bulk from Snapfish when they have a deal on. I experimented with layouts and embellishments in the album and I consistently find my favourites are the ones with a simple layout, few extra twiddly bits and some writing to give meaning to the pictures. When I come to do our Big Trip round the world album, I think I will stick to this and make it an ‘photo album plus journalling’.

    I was reminded of something said on ‘Downtown Abbey’ last weekend:

    ‘The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, it is all that is left.’

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  7. Jam, jam, jam, lovely jam!

    July 25, 2013 by sarah

    Last weekend I managed to squeeze in some jam making before the strawberries disappear. I was considering going to PYO until I saw it was way more expensive than paying an Eastern European immigrant to pick them and stack them on the selves of the local supermarket! But the raspberries are expensive so I might pick them.

    This recipe seemed bomb proof until this weekend when, once I’d potted it, I realised it was too soft set and so had to reboil it for a bit longer, resterilise the jars etc… so the nice break from study turned into a hot, frustrating session! But nothing beats the lovely taste of summer on some fresh scones …

    And a picture of Jim when we went to RIAT ( on Sunday to see the Vulcan (

    jam (1 of 3) jam (2 of 3)jam (3 of 3) jam (4 of 1) Strawberry Jam

    2kg small ripe but not over ripe strawberries

    1.7kg jam sugar (warm in the oven)

    juice of 2 lemons

    Hull the strawberries and set aside 10-20 of the smallest berries. Put in a jam pan, add the warmed sugar and lemon juice and bring to the boil; stir, stir, stir. Before it comes to a full rolling boil decide how chunky you want the jam – at this stage I usually use a potato masher and mash until rough mush. Add the retained berries and bring to a rolling boil (i.e. a boil that is not stopped by stirring).

    Boil on a rolling boil for 5 minutes then check the set (make sure you have taken it off the set while you check). Recipes vary as to how long this will take but I usually find 5-10minutes is all that is needed. Strawberry jam doesn’t set very solid.

    Take off the heat and skim off the scum – this is cooks perks! Leave to cool for 15 minutes or so then give a good stir to redistribute the chunks and pot up.

    I’ve just found out that for WI standards (i.e. the local show) the jam must be within 3mm of the top of the jar. No mention of a waxed disc so I didn’t bother this time.


  8. Baby presents!

    June 30, 2013 by sarah

    The practice manager of the practice where I work had her baby shower on Friday. I put together a little bundle of baby themed things, including some hand stitched felt baby booties and some appliqued onesies and bibs. The booties are surprisingly easy to make and look so cute. The pattern and instructions is from a fantastic website I discovered recently. Sadly the online store and shop are in the USA, but perhaps this is a blessing otherwise I would end up spending all my money there!

    This was my first attempt at applique and it was a bit mixed success-wise, mainly because the antique sewing machine I use is on the way out and so the stitching is irregular. The patterns are just images searched for on Google and simplified to make them easier to stitch, stuck to the fabric with Bondaweb. I am fairly pleased with the result and will try and make an applique strawberry T-shirt for myself for our holiday in Germany next week.

    Congratulations Anna!

    baby (3 of 5) baby (4 of 5) baby (5 of 5) baby (6 of 5)

  9. Happy Easter!

    March 31, 2013 by sarah

    It is Easter Sunday and the sun is out! Hello Mr Sunshine, we haven’t seen you for a while!

    I put out my Easter decorations today. The decorated eggs are not homemade but I have had them for about 10 years – I bought them in ‘The Olde Friars’ in Keswick when I worked up in Cumbria. I made the little bunnies and chick during the week while listening to MP3s for my medicine certificate – multi-tasking! I think the hanging bunnies have worked well, especially with their little pompom tails, but the 3D bunny on the chocolate egg basket is a bit weird! I’ll try something different next year. I also didn’t get time to make a felt lamb but if any of you guys have the time then there is a fantastic pattern here (the pattern is in the top right corner). Happy Easter everyone!

    easter (4 of 8) easter (6 of 8) easter (8 of 8) easter (7 of 8) easter (5 of 8)


  10. More of those brooches

    March 31, 2013 by sarah

    I’ll show you soon how I made the Scottie dog brooch.easter (1 of 8)