Thursday, 2 January 2014

A new year



Happy new year! I'd intended to write before now, but time has overtaken me in a delicious blur of sitting around with my family and friends doing very little other than playing board games and being becoming immersed in craft and sewing projects. When not playing board games, my daughter and I have been doing Zentangle doodles (more on those another time), making bracelets (and those) and sewing away on our own individual projects (that's another blog post too), often to a background of chatter (or the distinctive noise of Lego being searched through) with my husband and son, or cosy television watching my and my daughter's viewing tastes meet (the BBC drama of Death Comes to Pemberley - which is the murder mystery follow up to Pride and Prejudice - along with regular doses of Downton and we've even revisited The Waltons, which I can remember watching with my grandmother as a child, as well as watching David Walliams' new film of the book,  Gangsta Granny). It feels like the first Christmas we've had for many years where it has been nothing but total relaxation. The only thing of any event that has happened was a frantic rush to the vets when Nell unexpectedly ate a glass bauble from the Christmas tree, confirming herself as both incredibly silly and very much loved, as we spent the next twenty four hours trailing her around the house and on night-watch waiting to see whether the glass would cause any internal injury - it didn't and she's fine, but I think we all now stroke her floppy, velvety ears with renewed appreciation for her. In my brain-based book of 'Gosh, Dogs are SO Different from Cats', this incident has been recorded in evidence at number 4,379. It seems the list is never-ending and as though I will never cease being amazed by the cat/dog difference.


I have so much to write about, but in the brain-fug created by spending days mainlining Prosecco and chocolate, shorter seems better. The photos throughout this post are of my daughter's pre-Christmas sewing. On the weekend before school broke for the holidays, she decided that she wanted to sew little Liberty print purses for a few of her friends to give as Christmas gifts. It took several hours for her just to select the fabrics, cut, iron, and interface them, as well as to embroider her friends' names on each one by hand, so I was beginning to wonder whether I'd let her take on too much. However, I can now really see the wonderful benefit of bulk sewing when learning new skills, as when I went downstairs to make her some food (she was too busy to stop for lunch), on my return, she'd installed the final zip from start to finish, including under-stitching the lining, without any instruction at all - I think it's only by repeating the same process over and over on the previous bags that she had the confidence to do this and a proper understanding of why each step was needed.


I wanted to avoid any points in making these bags where my daughter would feel the need to ask me to actually sew bits of them for her to get the kind of finish she'd be happy with, so to avoid negotiating the bulk of the zip ends when it came to sewing up the sides of the bags (which I know from feedback to tutorials I've written, can be the bit that people find trickiest), I suggested we make the zips much shorter than I normally would. This worked perfectly and the covered zip ends sit a few millimetres in from each end of the bag, but not so far in that you could actually lose things through the gaps.


My daughter filled the bags with Quality Street chocolates and took them off to school having spent most of the weekend making them. The photographs aren't terribly good, as she finished them after dark and had to wrap them up before it had got fully light the next morning.


It would feel all wrong to not mention the lovely things my son has made in a start-of-year-post that features my daughter so prominently, so here's the Christmas gift he made for me and my husband this year: a book of Beasts, including lift-the-flap beast stats. This was possibly my favourite present. We loved Eletrea best, purely for the fact that he lives in Germany near power stations, a fact which made us both roar with laughter as we read it on Christmas morning.

I hope you've had a wonderful break too and want to wish you a very happy new year. I'm not really a new year's resolutions type of person - the moment I impose a rule or public aspiration on myself, I feel so overwhelmed by the idea that I might not live up to it that I set about wilfully sabotaging it. So, the only thing that I'm actively setting out to do as I head into 2014, is the rather vacuous pursuit of remembering to moisturise my hands more. Anyone who has taken step photos for a pattern or tutorial involving some hand-sewing and therefore their own hands, will know that this is a stark reminder of the truism that you can tell a person's age by the hands…but that for those who really ignore them you can add twenty years onto that figure.

Do you have any aspirations for the new year?

Florence x

17 comments:

  1. The only aspiration I can think of right now is to make one of those little purses as well as your daughter - what a talented young woman she is.

    Look forward to more of your delicious and inspiring work in 2014.

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  2. What a lovely little gift idea those purses are, and they look gorgeous in Liberty! Happy New Year to you, though it feels a little belated now…

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  3. Happy New Year, Florence! I have been following your blog for a bit and love your photos! I am particularly interested in the zipper finish on the little bags your daughter so meticulously crafted -- good job! I have always avoided doing little bags because of the zipper issue and this looks like a wonderful technique. I love your son's book -- takes me back to my own son's drawings. Delightful!

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  4. I have a few aspirations - though the only one I'm comfortable sharing is the aspirations of sewing better.
    good 2014!

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  5. Congrats to your daughter!! I did exactly the same with one of my daughters, I showed her how to make one then she did another 10 by herself. She was a pro by the end and very pleased with herself. It really does help to batch sew as it improves the skills very quickly. Happy New Year to you all.

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  6. Happy new year! My aspiration is to try and find a better balance in my life, including making a bit more time for both friends and sewing. Remembering to moisturise my hands would be a good one for me too! Glad Nell is OK, we also had a doggy emergency and, whilst he is also fine, it was absolutely terrifying at the time. Our furry friends are so precious, aren't they? Rx

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  7. Thanks for sharing a few details from your lovely family Christmas. I so enjoy your writing--no matter the topic. Since I intend to take more sewing in progress photos this year, I think I should immediately throw some moisturizer into the sewing room. Thanks for the heads-up! Happy New Year!

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  8. What lovely little bags, would love to make some myself - maybe your lovely daughter could do a tutorial for us all Florence. Happy New Year to you all
    Lots of love
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  9. What beautiful purses, and I love the book too. My two are still pre-school, so while they get the idea that you wrap up a present and give it to somebody, they are very much guided by the grown-ups. The ones they initiate themselves tend to be wrapped up empty egg boxes and the like!

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  10. I'm SO impressed with the pouches and your son's drawings - wonderful. How creative your children are, I can see how much time and care they put in. I haven't made any resolutions either, apart from a vague aim to do better, to do more, to be more organised. Wishing you and yours a very happy and contented 2014.

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  11. Happy New Year to you and all your readers!
    I came across your blog soon and I love reading it.
    It must feel great seeing your daughter completing her sewing projects. I hope that I would be able to do the same with my daughter when she is old enough for this.
    And well done for your boy as well, great imagination :)
    My aspiration for the new year sewing-wise is to be more organised and find more time for sewing, as well as concentrating more on dressmaking-from pattern making to sewing. I am looking forward to making some dresses for my little girl.
    xxx

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  12. I think the problem with the zip ends is actually how well different sewing machines can cope with a lot of thickness. Many machines can't - I have one that is fantastic and another which can't cope at all. The method you gave in sew hip magazine and which I think you provided on your blog a while ago solves the problem very nicely. It is still a knack so I think providing your daughter with a perfect solution is a good idea and it looks very good. Both of your children are obviously very creative which is great and I love your son's drawings.

    I am glad your dog is ok, that must have been distressing for you. Happy New Year to you all.

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  13. such a lovely post! your kids are so wonderfully creative! and your break sounds perfect :)

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  14. Your daughter's sewing is tremendous - taught well by mummy. I can understand why it takes soooo long to choose Liberty fabric as they are all so scrum my. Just before xmas I had the pleasure of standing in the fabric department of Libertys all on my own to choose fabric - it was heaven. Normally I have a husband or kids in tow and they have a limit on how long they want to hang about waiting for me.
    My aim is to somehow get a better work, play balance….. I will keep you posted xxx

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  15. It is a huge reward when children get creative without having pushed them into it! My daughter secretly made us a couple of Kawaii softies- best present ever for both of us. Love the blog makeover too.

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  16. Happy new year! I love the purses and the book, your kids are amazing, such talent and creativity, you must be so proud x

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  17. Oh, that book of beasts! How fantastic! I love it! And the pouches look great! So glad you had such nice holidays with your family (and that Nell's fine... life with dogs!).

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x