Friday, 8 June 2018

My Sewing Machines

Today I thought I'd share my sewing machines with you!

My original machine is a John Lewis JL125 that I got for my birthday from my mum and dad quite a few years ago.


Until just before I started this blog, it hadn't really been used that much. I'd used it to whip up a huge collection of drawstring bags and that was about it. However since I started sewing seriously, it has pretty much been in constant use. In fact I think it is about time I got it serviced.

It's a fairly basic model but covers everything I needed at the time. Unfortunately you can no longer buy this model from John Lewis but they have similar models in the same price range. John Lewis machines are made by Janome so I would recommend them. You can get the JL110 which is a great value beginner's machine.

It has a range of stitches, and came with a a zig-zag foot and 4 step buttonhole foot which is a bit tricky to use I will be honest. I have so far bought a rolled hem foot, invisible zipper foot, a walking foot and a quarter-inch foot (all made by Janome).

I also recommend this book which is a brilliant guide if you are looking to get the most out of your accessories.


I also have an overlocker, a Brother 1034D, which I have had for a couple of years now. It's a fairly basic model but it does all I need, although I still am finding my way with it to be honest. A quick google search tells me that this model has been replaced by the 2104D overlocker.


Also with the overlocker were included three different feet - a blind hem foot, a piping foot and a gathering foot, none of which I have a clue how to use yet!! The only thing I can fault with this is that it does not have a thread cutter which is a bit annoying sometimes.

Yes an overlocker can be a bit daunting, but I'm glad I have one. I am slowly learning my way about it, but don't feel I am using it to it's full potential yet! I recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn more about their overlocker.


My final machine, is a Janome TXL607, a fully computerised machine. This is on "permanent" loan to me as my mum upgraded from her Bernina that she had had for over 25 years to this model. However, she is a real Bernina lover and although she liked this machine, I think she prefers a Bernina so she upgraded again, and loaned me this machine! Aren't I lucky!



This is a fantastic machine and although to be honest it probably has more functions than I need as it is a quilters machine I think. It has an amazing range of stitch patterns, and has an automatic buttonhole foot which is something my manual machine didn't have, thank goodness!

Oh and we also have a John Lewis mini which isn't my machine, but is my daughter's! It's a great little starter machine, and it is a real shame that John Lewis have stopped making these. Sorry no photo as it is in its box at the moment!


Image from www.johnlewis.com 

I'd love to hear what machines you sew on, so please add your comments here.

Catherine x

NB This page contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you chose to purchase a book, I may receive a small commission and you are helping support this blog. I only recommend books or products that I have personally used and enjoy. 

Saturday, 2 June 2018

200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans - A Book Review


Today I am reviewing "200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans" by Jan Eaton. This is one of my favourite crochet books and I thoroughly recommend it for anyone wanting to create their own unique crocheted blanket.


The book has 200 different crochet squares that you can mix and match. They range from simple blocks to much more complicated blocks. The blocks are graded one hook, two hook and three hook which gives you an idea straight away how difficult each one might be. One hook is described as suitable for beginners, 2 hooks as some experience required and 3 hooks as challenging.


The book is divided into 3 sections: Mix and Match, Block Directory and Techniques.

The mix and match section is designed to help you through the process of creating your own blanket using these blocks.


The block directory contains instructions for 200 different blocks, some of which are traditional and some of which are brand new designs. Some of the blocks are worked in stripes and some are worked in rounds.


The techniques section is very clear and gives you all the information you would need to create these blocks, from how to make the stitches, different methods for joining the blocks and also has a few different edgings that you could use to finish your blanket.



Each block measures 15 cm (6 inches) square. Special abbreviations are listed for each block, and the instructions are written out for each block, however there are no charts which might have been useful if you find the instructions hard to follow.

Some of my favourite blocks that I would like to try out are:

Square Target (no 3)


Lacy Cross (no 19)


Granny with a Twist (no 39)


Willow (no 189)


I decided to make something from the book, I am making block 113 - Wisteria - which is a traditional block I believe. The block is worked using treble clusters and treble crochet so very straightforward. There are 7 rounds, however I am only working 5 rounds as I did not want such a large block. I am also omitting the double crochet border from the block.


It took me one evening to work up four squares. I plan to make these into a blanket, so quite a few more to go. I guess I will just carry on until either I run out of yarn or I have enough blocks! 


On searching for this block looking for inspiration, I came across this blanket on a wonderful blog new to me, the Patchwork Heart. 


I also decided to make my blocks plain with a colour border however I chose duck egg blue for the border colour and will also use this for the edging. I will write a further blog post about the blanket soon as I make progress with it! 


The yarn is all Stylecraft DK which I had in my stash, bought for a different blanket that never saw the light of day. 


I'm pretty pleased with the colour combinations so far....


So to sum it up, I would say that this book is a fantastic addition to your crochet library, and offers plenty of inspiration for anyone looking to create their own blankets.

Catherine x

NB This post contains an affiliate link. If you chose to purchase this book, I may receive a small commission and you are helping support this blog. I only recommend books or products that I personally have used and enjoy.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Simple Tote Bag from Learn to Sew with Lauren

Finally some sewing! This is the Simple Tote Bag from "Learn to Sew with Lauren" by Lauren Guthrie that I previously reviewed here.


I was in need of a new bag for my knitting projects so though I would knock one up.

The tote is a very simple make and would make a great first project for someone learning to sew. 


It is a simple design with a front pocket but there is also an option to add trim and to divide the pocket into two sections.


If you were a beginner and you made this bag you would learn how to sew straight seams and to make a buttonhole, which can be very scary if your machine is playing up!


I made my tote bag from some scraps of cotton linen mix that I had left over and the front pocket is made from a fat quarter. The button is from my stash too.


So all in all a great stashbusting project!

Catherine x

NB This post contains an affiliate link. If you chose to purchase this book, I will receive a small commission and you are helping support this blog. I only recommend books or products that I personally have used and enjoy.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Puppy blanket buddy!

Today I am sharing a finished object with you.


Isn't he cute!


The puppy is taken from a pattern collection called Animal Lovies by Yolanda Soto-Lopez


It's a collection of 10 different security blankets that can be knitted up quickly and given as a gift. 



My particular favourites are the kitten...


panda...


and rabbit.


I used the recommended yarn, Lion Brand Vanya's Choice which is a medium weight yarn. It's a 100 percent acrylic so is a good choice for a child's toy. However if I was to make this again, I might chose a different yarn as not only is it quite expensive it is not a soft as I'd hoped for.

The blanket is knitted on 5.5 mm needles so it is a quick make. The blanket is knitted on straight needles but some parts are knitted in the round, so a bit fiddly as there are not many stitches on your needles.

The toy is very straight forward make though and the instructions were clear and easy to understand. The only difficulty I had was with the ears as it was not clear which end was to be sown to the head of the toy so I just went with what looked right.

My embroidery is a little wonky but I think it adds to the charm.


I am gifting him to a work colleague's little grand-daughter so I hope she likes him! I am sure to make some more of these as they are cute, easy to make and great for a quick gift! 

Catherine x

Monday, 14 May 2018

Life happens

Hello lovely readers

Due to some personal problems, I have recently had to reduce my hours at work, so crafting funds are going to be limited for the foreseeable future... I would like to spend some more time posting on this little old blog though. 

So I thought it would be a good idea to start a new series of posts on my efforts to stashbust.

While my stash is not too huge by some standards, I do have a mountain of knitting yarn and some fabric stockpiled too. Not to mention all the WIPs that I need to get finished....

I also have a very large collection of crafting and sewing books that I have purchased over the years.  If anyone is interested, I plan to go through these and write some reviews, share my favourites and also try some of the projects out... 

Maybe I might even try my hand at vlogging? You never know! 

If you have got any great ideas for stashbusting or crafting on a budget, I'd love to hear from you so please leave me a little comment below. 



Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Popping by to say hello

Just popping by to say hello after the long gap!

Not a lot of crafting has been going on here as life has got in the way.

Plus the family has a new addition, Loki, the cockapoo, so all crafting materials have had to be put away from prying puppy paws. He's 4 months old now and full of beans.


I have however been doing the odd bit of knitting and I even managed to crochet a whole blanket, so I will have some things to share with you soon. The blanket pattern is called "A Spicier Life" and it is designed by the lovely Sandra Paul of Cherryheart. It's a free download from Ravelry so if you want to have a go at crochet, I thoroughly recommend this pattern.


As you can see Oscar is rather taken with the blanket! I'm currently making number 2.

Catherine x

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Mini Polar Bear

Have you started your Christmas knitting? I've made this adorable mini polar bear.  


Mini Christmas Knit - Polar Bear

You can find out more at my new blog, Knits and Stitches.

Catherine x

FEATURED POST

My Sewing Machines

Today I thought I'd share my sewing machines with you! My original machine is a John Lewis JL125 that I got for my birthday from my...