Sunday, 25 November 2012

Craftways Signs of Spring Kit Review

Hi there,

This kit is by Craftways and is called Signs of Spring.  The kit comes with everything you need to complete it including the 4" coasters.

Each flower design is worked in counted cross-stitch onto a piece of  14 count aida measuring 4" x 4".  It's a nice easy kit to work, and stitches up quickly with one square on the chart being equal to one square on the fabric.

The instructions are clear and the chart is printed slightly larger than the finished stitching. This makes it easy to see the difference between the symbols leading to greater accuracy in stitching.  The different shades of blues, greens and purples within the kit are also easy to tell apart.

The coasters themselves are made of a durable plastic and are large enough to fit the base of most standard sized mugs.

I loved working on these coasters.  They are quick, simple and the finished results are both functional and pleasing.

My only slight negative is that, although finding the centre of the aida is straightforward, the chart doesn't show which is the middle square on each design. This means that finding the starting square on the chart to match the centre of the fabric takes a bit of working out.

Having said that though, it's a lovely set and ideal to complete as a gift for someone, or even just to add a personal touch to your own home.

Bye for now


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Minicraft Soft Toy Kit Review

Hi all

This is a soft toy kit from Minicraft.  I bought it from ebay for £5.99.

I've seen these kits around for a few years now and finally decided to take the plunge and try one out. I picked the bat kit for a couple of reasons. The first is I've written a children's book about a bat and this little guy looks just like my main character Dingbat. So much so that I just couldn't resist him. The second is because he looks so cute. As regular blog followers know, I have a huge soft spot for all things cute.

Anyway, the kit is pre-cut and comes with instructions on how to put it together. The only things that you need to supply are the stuffing and a needle and thread.

It's nice and easy to sew although it is a little fiddly around the face, ears and nose section.  Once the body is stitched together and while it is still inside-out, the eyes are fitted.  I must admit I struggled with the eyes as I haven't used proper toy eyes before.  I had no idea which way round the little washers go onto the eye stems and the instructions don't say.   Fingers crossed I got them the right way round.

It didn't take long to complete, just a couple of hours one evening.

It's a great little kit for a quick finish but does have a teensy negative. I was a little disappointed with the fur as it sheds easily. The fur falls out in chunks leaving bare patches. It is a cheap quality fabric which lets the kit down. Although the bare patches can be covered up by gently brushing the remaining fur over, it does mean that it would be totally unsuitable as a toy for a young child.

Having said that though, I'm happy with the finished bat. If you are looking for something quick and easy and fun to stitch then this kit fits the bill.

And he still looks cute.

Bye for now


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A soft spot or OSMC

Hi there, 

I was having a bit of a nose around a local second hand shop over the weekend and came across this:

It was tucked down the side of some furniture, looking a bit sorry for itself, just sitting there all alone. Well, I couldn't leave it there.  Poor thing looks like its had a bit of a hard life.

It's a Mundlos machine, originally designed to go on a treadle table judging by the lack of a tool compartment, little holes in the base just under the hand crank and the small groove just behind the wheel. The little holes and groove would have been for the belt attaching the machine to the pedal.  The tools would probably have been kept in the table.

The golden badge is the Mundlos company's trade mark and the portrait is of Heinrich Mundlos, one of the company's founders.  The little switch to the side is a handy little gadget that pops the shuttle out of the bobbin compartment.

Originally, this machine would have been decorated with decals on the metal base and both sides of the arm. Unfortunately, it looks as though someone tried to clean this one before I found it and has managed to rub the decals off.  There are still faint markings and you can just make out the word "Victoria" on the straight part of the arm.  Word of warning to anyone out there looking to clean a vintage sewing machine - don't use chemicals or wire wool, especially not on the decals!

The lack of decoration and the fact that I can't find a serial number make it a bit difficult to date this machine.  I'll keep researching though and in the meantime, I'll make a best guess at between 1900 - 1920 give or take.   If anyone out there knows the date or can narrow it down, I'd love to hear from you.

This is another useful little gadget that I haven't come across on a sewing machine before. See the little grey coloured disk on the end of the bobbin winder above? Its a grinding wheel.  I'm assuming its for sharpening needles. How cool is that?

This is its box.  Again, the wording has rubbed off but if you are up close, you can see the word "Victoria".

This poor old machine may be a bit battered and definitely looking worse for wear, but in a strange, lived in sort of way, it has a kind of rustic charm which tugged at my heart strings a little.  Well, it tugged at them quite a bit which just goes to show that I'm just a big softy.  Either that or it's the first symptoms of OSMC - Obsessive Sewing Machine Collecting.

Bye for now


Monday, 16 July 2012

Singer Sewing Machine

Hi all,

I hadn't realised that it has been such a long time since I uploaded anything.  I have a really good excuse. We're moving - yet again! We seem to have a knack for finding long-term lets which the landlords don't want to long-term let anymore. For what must be the fourth time in two years... actually it might be the fifth... we are dusting off the packing boxes, re-applying the packing tape and popping the bubbles in the bubble wrap. Well, there has to be a bit of fun amidst the chaos and besides, it's a good stress reliever!

So, with all the packing, unpacking and re-packing, stitching projects have fallen by the wayside.  In fact, I'm not even sure where half of the projects I was working on are any more - apart from being in a box - somewhere.

Anyway, one of the things that becomes second nature, when you move as often as I have, is clearing stuff out.   Moving stuff from one place to another is a brilliant motivator to de-clutter and hone your possessions to those that are useful or seriously sentimental.  Unfortunately, there are times when things that you want to keep get put in the wrong pile and end up getting chucked by mistake.  This is what happened to my Mum's old Singer Sewing Machine.  I was gutted when I found out it was gone.

I have been trawling through second hand shops, ebay and antique stores to try to find a replacement.  I finally found this one which isn't quite right but it's fairly close.

To be spot-on, the little inspection covers and the front plate need to be silver and patterned, whereas on this one they are black and plain.

This one was from ebay and was £36 which is about right.  There are still so many of them around that they are not really worth much more than that. From a seriously sentimental point of view though, this one is priceless.

Bye for now


Saturday, 3 March 2012

A Quillow of Good Intentions

Hi there,

The great thing about moving house so many times is finding things you had forgotten you had.

The fabric in this quillow was purchased years ago.  All of it, to make something for Eldest or Youngest.  The sun and moon fabric was for PJs; the Winnie the Pooh fabric was for a duvet cover; the teddy panels were for nursery cushions. For one reason or another, I never got around to making any of them. So when I came across the fabric in a box I was unpacking, I decided to put some of it to good use.

I even found some fabric that my Mum purchased when I was small.  Its in the bottom left corner of the picture above.  I have no idea what she was intending to make with it but I know she never got around to it.  I guess life just runs away with us all sometimes.

This is the Quillow of good intentions.  A reminder that when Plan A falls flat, there is always Plan B!

Bye for now