Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Owl and The Pussycat Tote

This will be my last post for a week or so. I'm going to my parents tomorrow and will be heading to Dublin with my Mum on Thursday. Spending that night in Dublin and catching an early flight to London on Friday. I am super excited! Haven't been out of the country since October 2011.

I finished my new tote bag last week. It will be a replacement for my much loved but very dilapidated Accessorize owl tote. This new tote is based on Noodlehead's Madras Tote with added interior details. I added a zip pocket, key-fob and a magnetic snap. I used a Spoonflower Heather Ross print  on cotton/linen blend canvas for the exterior and Hope Valley prints for the linings and accent. I used an old flannel sheet as interfacing which adds a fair bit of weight. I actually struggled to sew the boxed corner seams through the layers of canvas and flannel, but just about managed. Really looking forward to testing the new bag on my trip :)

I also manage to finally sew myself a pincushion! I have never actually made one for myself before. I have been a bit obsessed with house shapes in quilts for a while, and had to stitch up this tiny one using Hello Kitty Liberty and Sketch in Coffee. It turned out pretty cute and is now in service as a practical pincushion as I get on with hand quilting my Swoon quilt. I hope to finish my Swoon fairly soon. Dedicating all my free time to working on it until it is done now.

Back in a few days, quite possibly with some new fabric purchases :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Stitching This Week

I managed to catch up with some of my sewing projects in the first half of this week :) I'm rushing to get as much done as possible as I'm going to London with my Mum and sister at the end of the month and will be away from both internet and sewing machine for several days. Once I made some free time for sewing, this HST zippy pouch tutorial seemed like the perfect project for keeping my handbag a bit more organised during the trip. I tend to carry a massive tote bag everywhere and can never find anything, so now my keys, hand-cream, and phone can have somewhere to live. I used Tula Pink's Salt Water, and followed Jeni's tutorial almost exactly. I just left out the fusible fleece as I don't have any here. Very pleased with my new pouch :)

I found a flex frame in my bag findings stash, and used it to make a tiny flex frame pouch. I used this tutorial but with a Far Far Away scrap instead of the tiny hexies. All went well until I realised I couldn't fit the bag perimeter around my machine's free arm. I had to sew almost blind with my foot inside the bag and my machine's built in needle-threader threatening to rip my fingers off! Luckily it worked out ok, though I think I'll be sticking to pouches I can actually fit around my machine in future.

The back in a Loulouthi Hugs and Kisses print in butterscotch.

March is my month in the do. Good Stitches Care Circle. I'm really hoping no one will mind me asking them to make more scrappy trip blocks. After much thought (and indecision,  and I'm still not entirely sure about this, but hoping for the best!) I settled on a low volume seaside colour scheme. Aqua, turquoise and lime/seaweed green with lots of pale neutrals. Planning a 60" square quilt (5 x 5 blocks) and I intend to donate the finished quilt to Siblings Together, a charity which runs summer camps and other activities to bring together sets of siblings separated by separate foster care or adoption. I have another quilt (almost finished) which I'll be donating too, but my plan for this group quilt is to stay away from my usual bright girlish colours. I'm not sure it will be entirely gender neutral (there are already some flowers in there) but it should hopefully be more appealing to a child who doesn't love pinks and purples. My other donation quilt is very heavy on the purple! I'll share that one here soon.

Off to cook some dinner now. I have been keeping up with home cooked goodness for about a week now, resisting the urge to order pizza!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Pancakes and Love Day

It is a super busy month here at teacupfaery central. I have been sewing blocks for my month at do. good stitches (leading my first group quilt in March!), secret dress pattern testing, and lots of knitting, as well as hosting Aurora, the Travelling Blythe. She's had a quiet week so far, but it is time for a quick summary.

Last Saturday's trip to Dublin involved the purchase of a card game which turned out to have a fatal flaw. It needed swapping for a replacement, and the only sensible thing to do was for Jane (and Aurora) to travel to Dublin once more on Tuesday. Pancake Tuesday! Before we set off we had pancakes with banana, maple syrup and caramel pecans. Nom nom nom. Left the house with Dan and caught the 9am bus, getting me to Dublin for 11am. Attended to game shop business, then went to do some sightseeing. Turns out a totally neglected the South Side on Saturday.

First stop, Grafton Street, then the Phil Lynott statue. Then we went for a (bitterly cold) wander in Stephen's Green, where we met some swans and giant easter eggs. Not entirely sure what those were. Then to the museum to see the mummies. And a few of the shiny golden things. Then to Marks and Spencers for lunch, and possibly the most expensive cappuccino in the city (3.50 euro!)

Got to see my sister Sarah on Tuesday too, and her lovely friend Ailbhe. Went to a lovely coffee bar in the Georges Street Arcade.

Love day was spent very pleasantly. I spent the day working on my crafty pursuits while Dan was at work. Then we made banana muffins together and I sewed a bit more while we waited for our pizza delivery. Pizza for tea and then Janey choice movies in bed. I chose 'The Beyond', which was just as fantastically awful as I had hoped :)

Hope everyone had a great week.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Weekend Adventures

Weekends around here have been a lot more fun lately. I think I am finally feeling more settled and am able to handle a lot more unexpected adventures than I used to be. I woke up yesterday morning with no real weekend plans, but by midday Dan, Aurora and I were on the bus to Dublin. Turned out my sister Sarah and her friend had the day off too, so meet-ups were had.

 Aurora in our capital city. I tried to show here as many sights as I could but photography conditions weren't optimal. But this shot is my token gesture of tangible proof. For my part in the Travelling Blythe Experience, I feel it is important to make the traveller a part of our real lives, and the real culture to which we belong. I am avoiding anything that might be considered stereotypically 'Irish' if it doesn't fit with the way I live. I have bonded with this little one over shared hours of horror movies, heavy metal and riverside walks. We like overcast skies, warm sweaters and a bottomless sea of coffee. I am overwhelmed by the things this dolly has seen. This whole project is truly amazing.

No trip to Dublin would be complete without a trip to Gamer's World. Dan bought some books and I picked up Cthulhu Gloom. Then we explored Chapters epic book-store  We stopped at the Foam Cafe for coffee. Sadly the gluten free cake was all gone for the day, but Sarah's cake looked delicious. And my cappuccino was amazing. Definitely want to come to this beautiful cafe again.

Ended a fantastic day out with a rum and coke at The Grand Social.

Today I am keeping warm indoors, sewing and planning burgers for tea. I'm also excited about the likely-hood of a trip to London with Sarah and my mum very soon. More details soon I hope!

Friday, 8 February 2013


Further adventures in Athlone, with Aurora The Travelling Blythe. Today was one of those overcast grey days typical of late winter here. Sky, river and stone all look much the same. We went walking in town again, looking for sights to see. This is a view of our town bridge with the Church of SS. Peter and Paul behind.

 This church contains  six (I think it is six) Harry Clarke stained glass windows. Aurora herself reminds me of Harry Clarke's work. Her pale face and saturated jewel colours, and the coloured glass on her pull-strings  So I had to see them both together. It turns out the interior of a large church does not suit my photography skills, and I was unable to capture anything of the windows themselves, but I intend to have another go at photographing them soon.

Next stop, The Bawn. a dubious lane in Athlone town centre, which was the birthplace of Count John McCormack. And is also a Chinese restaurant. Count John was apparently H. P. Lovecraft's favourite singer, who Lovecraft once emulated on a wax cylinder recording of himself. I believe he (Lovecraft) destroyed the cylinder almost immediately  but what an artefact that would be! I sometimes wonder if Lovecraft had ever heard of our town in his reading about Count John.

And back to the river. We saw some swans fly by. My walks with Aurora take a lot longer than my usual walks, with all the photo-snapping. But I really enjoy her company. My icy cold fingers were suffering for it though.

Love her purple fairy dress. It was too pretty to cover up.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Aurora And The Blue Sky

 Since signing up to host a Travelling Blythe, I occasionally wondered what I would do to entertain her when she arrived. I never really thought of anything exciting. And then her imminent arrival was announced! And it's winter, and I'm in a wintry flump. I live in a big town by Irish standards. In summertime we have a lot of touristy things going on, lots of river related activities and even the occasional barbecue at my parents. Winter here is a bit grim to be perfectly honest. But then I thought about what I love about my town. I love the River Shannon, the hidden quiet places, and our great big sky. So that's what I decided to show Aurora today.

Enid (my resident chatterbox) explained the following to Aurora: "Ireland is kind of shaped like a giant saucer, see? A ring of mountains on the coast and all flat like in the middle. So here in the Midlands we look up and see a big giant sky. Unless there's fog. Then we don't see anything". Which is basically true. But I love those ever-changing skies. Mostly grey, sometimes blue. Often raining.

Today was a blue sky day. Hard to believe it was snowing with a white-out sky yesterday. Still freezing cold mind. My girls lent Aurora the Woollyrockers owl sweater as she apparently didn't bring her own. (Enid: "Who comes to Ireland without a sweater?") I'm actually working on one for her to keep, so she'll have her own soon. I really love Aurora's little hats. 

Today we went on my usual walk. From teacupfaery central (The Wacky Shack) we make our way through the town centre. Past the gauntlet of coffee shops in the shopping centre. (Enid: "Jane is allergic to cake you know! So she never takes us to the fancy coffee-cake shops! How sucky is that!" Me: "It's not the cake, it's the gluten, and you are being insensitive!"). Ahem. We stopped outside the library where a nice lady complimented Aurora's outfit. She was very interested in the whole travelling Blythe business :)

After the town centre we headed to the Abbey Graveyard, a ruined abbey on the riverbank which looks particularly peaceful in winter. You can just about see St. Peter and Paul's church across the river. That church contains some particularly epic stained glass by Harry Clarke so it will hopefully be a stop for another day. My camera battery died before we got around to doing much on the other-side of the river, but we made it home before the rain.

I apologise for the high probability of dolly ramblings over the next few days. We are having a lovely time with Aurora. I don't have a very adventurous life but I feel lucky to be able to share it with Blythe. It has been nice to be taking photos outdoors again. It's actually a lot easier than quilt photography, and I missed it. Expect more Athlone adventures soon :)

Monday, 4 February 2013


I'm not sure what to do with myself today. It's cold and windy out, and all I want to do indoors is take photographs of some finished mini quilts, but the light isn't quite up to it. Aurora the travelling Blythe has arrived in Ireland! She is a beautiful custom Thumpety Thump and I will be her guardian for the next week or so. Hoping the weather will allow me to take her outside shortly. Here she is by my dolly shelves, settling in.

I've been experimenting with scrappy-trip-along blocks over the weekend. I made two pincushions using 1.25" strips, so each square ends up just .75" finished. (Using decimals for imperial measurement feels entirely wrong, but fractions look too messy in type, so I'll stick to decimals. Hope they are clear enough! I am much more comfortable writing in pencil than with keyboard. Quieter too.)

Anyway... pincushions! I might be in love with these. They'll be headed to the shop soon, just need to finish up the photos. I chose the patchwork fabrics to co-ordinate with backing fabrics I wanted to use. Each pincushion measures approx 5.5" square and is stuffed with polyester toy stuffing. I used some adorable cotton twill tape with measuring tape print to make little loops at the top of each cushion, should you want to hang them or attach some tiny scissors.