Handmade Holidays: A Quilt for Bernard

Bernard is my niece's teddy bear. He goes everywhere with her and I wanted him to have a gift for Christmas. I made him his very own quilt to match her's. While the idea of a tiny miniature version of this quilt sounded very cute I knew it wouldn't quite work so instead I used some of the same materials and colours to make a coordinating quilt instead.

It worked out at about 12 inches square and was made up of improvised piecing on front and back, quilted with a doodle stitch. The quilting was actually the hardest bit for me. All of my quilts are usually done on my quilt frame where I move the machine and not the material, so it took a while for my machine quilting skills to kick in on this piece!

My brother and sister-in-law loved the blanket but I think my niece was more excited by the huge pile of toys she'd already got. However later on I did find Bernard all wrapped up so I think it went down well even if it wasn't as exciting as a mound of Duplo.

The chance to make something special and personal for my niece made this one of may favourite gifts to give this year. I hope she'll play with it and maybe one day it'll get pulled out of the bottom of a box and she'll remember the Christmas even Bernard got a gift.


Handmade Holidays: Napkins

This year I was taking it easy, by 7th December we had bought all of our gifts and wrapped them up. Though there was a decided element of festive smug about this, it also killed alot of my festive joy. There were very few handmade gifts in the mix, and as the wrapping was done so early there were no decorations up in the house or much joy when doing the wrapping. As work began to get quieter my crafty side started itching and ideas for handmade gifts and extras started appearing in my to-do list. Now gifts have been given and I am enjoying the pre-New Year lull as a time to share my handmade holidays in series of posts.

I made these napkin rings for the pop-up shop a couple of years ago but I sold them before they had chance to be used. I found a stash I made last year in a drawer but realised I have no napkins to put them on! I nipped into town and gathered up an arm full and set about filling them with a little festive joy.

Each of the napkin rings has a different phrase on them and so the slightly mismatched trees worked well with this. I raided my scrap jars and found enough bits of green to make a set of 12 napkins. The trees were hand cut and machine appliqu├ęd using bondaweb which left them a little stiff but this will fade the more they are washed and used.

They were a huge success with my family and I am really proud of how well they came out. Though they were a bit last minute I loved having a chance to make something for the table that I know will be used again and again.


Melty Snowmen & Mulled cider

Here is a sneaky peek of the festive fodder in our house at the moment. During December there has been a cauldron of mulled cider bubbling away most weeks but this week they've also been joined by some melted snowmen cupcakes. These came from boingboing  years and years ago, and they never fail to amuse or entertain people.

Merry Christmas!! I hope your day is filled with fun, festivities and plenty of food. 


A quilt for Laura

My decision to make quilts for people having birthdays with a zero has started a bit of an avalanche. The next in the queue was my good friend Laura. Now Laura is an unashamed love of all things hyper girlie. If it’s pink, and has sparkles on it she’ll love it.  And here was the challenge. This is not my aesthetic, I have my mother to thank for my rejection of the idea of ‘pink is for girls’ from an early age. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t like pink and believe in equality it’s just *I* don’t like pink. But this was a quilt for Laura, so I bought all of the pink. There is pink cupcakes, pink dots, pink floral designs, and my personal favourite pink chevrons.

I started off with a Log-cabin in mind but found myself missing the spontaneity of the more improvised quilting I have been doing recently. I took the blocks I already had done and instead they became a part of my more fluid design.

Excuse the super bright pics, unseasonably bright weather exposed the hell out of these!
My favourite side of this quilt is definitely the back, I think the injection of the grey dot is a great contrast to the other colours without being to dark and heavy.

My most favourite bit of all has to be the binding. I have been making my own bias binding for the last few years, but up till now this has always been made from a single colour. Not this time my friend! This time I carried on my improvisational madness and made a multi coloured binding. I love how the different elements of the binding reflect the rest of the quilt, and this has filled my head with new ideas when it comes to bindings! Now all I need to do is break up from work and have several weeks alone with my sewing machine.


Stabby Death Cakes

Recently a lot of my creativity has been leaking out in my baking. Back working in an office means copious amounts of tea and more people to share a batch of cakes with. My first real chance to do some playful baking came at Halloween with the creation of Stabby Death Cakes. Surprisingly I saw the idea in a Tesco magazine and couldn't resist giving it a go.

The Tesco recipe used Red Velvet cake topped with peppermint '"glass", firstly red velvet is a cake I cannot stand - it just tastes like food colouring to me, and secondly I couldn't see how it would pair with the minty glass. Instead I went for a chocolate mint cupcake with a white chocolate ganache icing which went perfectly with the minty glass. Add a sprinkling of red food colouring and my Halloween confections were complete.

They went down very well ending up on the college's instagram almost immediately. I have to admit I took great joy in people's expressions when asking if they would like a 'Stabby Death Cake'. First step taken, creative confectionery has started creeping back into my working life.


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