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Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.

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  • Briony I loved these large poppies when we had our allotment, you just never knew where they were going to pop up each year as they... 25 Jun
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

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crafting with children

How to make a patchwork bookmark

We needed an easy, creative activity today. We had snow, but not enough to entertain anyone more than 5 minutes outside. Just finger nipping cold, nose chilling wet. I don’t wish to sound greedy, but can someone send us enough to make a snowman next time, please?

After a very short time, everyone retreated inside. Queue activity to head off the requests for screen time.

I love making patchwork bookmarks. It uses up teeny, tiny scraps of fabric, which I cannot bring myself to throw away. Also, there is no right or wrong with it. Perfect as a beginner project or one for children to do, or, to be honest, anyone who likes making fun, pretty things. So long as the scraps overlap each other and more than cover the piece of felt, practically anything goes. I like to quilt as I go and this is a brilliant way to practise the technique.

This is how we do it.

You need:

a bundle of little scraps of fabric
a strip of felt, cut 20cm x 5cm (8″ x 2″) approx
a piece of fabric 21cm x 6cm (8.5″ x 2.5″ ) for the back
small piece of ribbon
thread

sewing equipment (scissors, sewing machine, pins, knitting needle, tape measure or ruler)

Each scrap of fabric needs to have straight edges to keep this project on the easy side. They also need to be at least 1cm wider then the narrow width of the felt piece.

Step 1: Arrange pieces of scrap fabric on top of the felt strip, making sure the edges of the scraps are overlapping each other by at least 0.5cm (1/4″).

Step 2: Take the first scrap of fabric. Right side up, position it overlapping the top of the felt by 0.5cm. Now this part is slightly tricky. Channel your inner school maths self and think rotations. Imagine a sewing line on the scrap (big, bold, arrowless lines in pictures above), 0.5cm from the edge. Now, flip the scrap on to the wrong side, along the imagined line. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Step 3: Sew along the sewing line. As shown, above left. Fold the fabric up, so the right side is now showing, and iron the fabric in the direction of the arrow in the  picture, above right.

It’s plain sailing from now on.

Step 3: Putting right sides together, and lining up the edges, sew the next scrap to the first one. As shown above. You are sewing through the felt as well. Flip the second scrap down and iron it.

Repeat for all the other fabrics, until the felt is covered. Overlap the lower edge of the felt by at least 1cm (0.5″)

Step 4: Putting right sides together, line up the bookmark with the backing fabric. Sew around 3 edges, just catching the edge of the felt. Leave the bottom short edge open.

(Tip: at the start and the end of stitching, sew back over your stitches. This stops them pulling apart when you do step 6.)Step 5: Clip the excess fabric around the edge and clip the corners.

Step 6: Turn the bookmark the right way round, by pulling it through the open edge. Use the blunt end of a knitting needle, or a stick, to push the corners into a point. Take care not to push through the corners and make a hole.

Step 7: Iron the bookmark and tuck the unstitched ends back into the opening, as if to hide them. Push the ends of the ribbon in too. Pin in place.

Step 8: Topstitch along each of the four edges of the bookmark.

Step 9: Iron, and then slip bookmark into your current book.

All three children (9, 12 and 14) loved this activity. They really got into the selection stage, and the chance to use my old sewing machine. The one aspect of this activity you can guarantee is, that no two bookmarks will ever look quite the same. Colour, fabric and wonkiness just add to the charm.

These make great gifts, especially when giving a book. Often thought they would work well as a Father’s day present or teachers thank you gift. So easy that several can be made in one afternoon.

Hope you have fun making one. I’m off to check if it’s snowing again. Fingers crossed.

Linking up to Sara’s Craft Schooling Sunday and Fiona’s #Trash2Treasure

Trash 2 Treasure


 

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Winter turns to spring

I love this time of year. Here in the northern hemisphere, the days are noticeably getting longer. Everything is beginning to spring. Lambs in the fields. Snowdrops in the hedgerow. More light. Still muddy, but slowly, everything becomes easier. Today marks the mid point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Winter turns to spring

It’s no accident that so many different societies choose to celebrate this time of year. Let’s face it. Who doesn’t like an excuse to celebrate? Especially after dark days and wintery weather. Brr.

Imbolc was yesterday. Candlemas and Groundhog Day are today. There is also the Chinese New Year that started on 28th January. Each one celebrates light and the new growing season, in their own way. So many traditions and myths. I’ve had a word with our local badger sett and they would prefer if I didn’t haul them out to check for their shadow.

We love to celebrate. We’ve made candles, cakes and lanterns in past years. How could we resist a craft project to celebrate the season? This year, we are making hand cranked storytelling craft. This is how we did it.

We used a small box, such as one that held tea or matches, or even a toilet tube, and cut out a window in the front.

Next we cut a strip of paper, which is as tall as the window in the box. Drawing a series of pictures, adding words and anything else that helped to tell our story.

Made four holes. Two in the top and two in the bottom, to put the rods through, which the paper strip rolls around. We used old felt tips, that had run dry, and pushed them through the holes as shown above.

With the pens in place, and using sticky tape, we attached one end of the picture strip to one of the pens. Rolled the paper around the pen, before sticking the other end of the strip to the second pen. Bit fiddly, but we got there in the end.

Carefully twisting the second pen to pull and wrap the paper strip around it. Transferring the paper from one pen to the other. And back again.

So many stories to tell and share. Encouraging children to tell stories. Voicing the tales as well as sharing the pictures.

I made a quick version to show the children, before we started. Not polished, but they got the idea.

Whether you light a candle or make a cake, I hope you find some way to celebrate the change of the season. Where ever you live.

Happy Candlemas/ Imbolc

Linking up to Fiona’s #Trash2Treasure linky. Have you been upcycling this month?


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Hurray! A Rainy, January weekend

The frost has gone and replaced by rain. Not heavy but enough for me to change my dog walking route and opt for a quiet weekend. I’m not keen on mud season. I seem to spend too much time trying to keep mud out of the house, only to start again the next day. One day, I will just give up, throw seeds at it and see what plants we have growing in the house by summer. Might be quite interesting. Peppers and tomatoes growing in easy reach for my salad preparation.

My theory is that there is always an upside, or silver lining, if you look hard enough. This weekend was good. We did the Big Garden Birdwatch as a family. We do it each year. Despite the rain, there were a good number of different types of birds, to count. Improving everyone’s identification skills.  There was also a creative vibe bouncing around the house, hitting everyone. Even the Pup whittled a stick by the fire, although it looked more like an attempt to make kindling rather than a great masterpiece. I live in hope.

After homework was reluctantly, by some, complete, the paints were out. All three children, at one stage, were busy painting. Birds, feathers and eyes. Just experimenting away from the pressure of a classroom.

They finally enthusiastically decorated the gingerbread house. We are coming up to Candlemas, half way through winter. It seemed a good time to mark it with gingerbread. We’ll be celebrating with Candlemas activities later in the week, as usual. I wouldn’t miss it.

I love the jelly bellies they gave the gingerbread men. The tummy buttons sank down due to lack of room. Not that any of it lasted long after this photo was taken. A small piece was reserved for today’s packed lunch.

In between it all, I was creative too. I positioned the old Singer machine at the end of the kitchen table and started on a patchwork. Not for long. Middle daughter hovered.

It wasn’t long before, she reappeared with patchwork squares, cut up and ready to go.

I didn’t mind, did I?

I was hardly going to say no. Especially as she went on to bake the cake in the top photo, later on in the day.

For her patchwork, she laid out the squares on her bed. Running up and down the stairs to fetch the next strip to sew. Loving using her great great grandmother’s hand cranked sewing machine. There is something rather special about sewing with this machine.

She finished it too. That evening, when I went up to say goodnight, I found she’d laid the finished quilt top on the end of her bed. It looked pretty, but lacks the warmth of a quilt, yet. Next stage is to sandwich the layers and quilt it. My patchwork is a long way off that stage. Partly as I’ve changed the scope. It started off as a small pincushion, but as I eased into the process, it grew to a cushion cover and then full steam exploding into a lap quilt.

I’m enjoying making the stars. Up to now, I’ve favoured handstitching over machine piecing. This project is changing my mind. Even cutting them out is obstacle free. I’ve figured out the best way to construct them, so they are a joy to make. Diamond bunting spins out from behind the sewing machine, when I’m in full swing. When I had a chance, I should add. I’m heading for a scrappy quilt. Mixing patterns with a nod to random, as it progresses. Opinions on favourites change as each new star is formed. I’m really, absolutely enjoying this quilt. It is not a quick one, but I don’t mind. The old Singer sewing machine is perfect for the job.

It was a good weekend. As the children grow, weekends are subtly changing. No afternoon walk this weekend, as we had hoped, but there was less screen time. (Not completely free, although they do seem to learn cooperation through Minecraft than I never anticipated. And coding too, which is good as it’s in context.) There was more making and reading. More family time. Together.

So how was your weekend? Hope you had a good time.


 

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