Sun, Sand and Seaside Inspiration

I have recently returned from a wonderful week in Cornwall, staying at Trevornick Holiday Park. Whilst Mr B and I were away we enjoyed celebrating my Dad’s birthday with him. I was particularly looking forward to this day in our holiday as I couldn’t wait to give him my gift.

My Dad has recently bought a shiny new caravan and has been enjoying his retirement exploring the beautiful countryside of Great Britain having some very relaxed weekends away and short breaks. I therefore decided that a holiday/caravan themed present would be perfect for his birthday this year and after my wonderful time learning to free motion embroider with the lovely Cathy of Dear Emma Designs (read about it here), I have been itching to create more pieces of textile art and this seemed like the perfect reason.

Something I found I really enjoy with free motion embroidery is spending time designing and developing an idea before creating a piece. With my Dad’s presents I decided I was going to make two envelope cushion covers with free motion embroidery fronts, one with a seaside theme and the second with a caravan theme.

Seaside/Holiday themed cushions

Dad’s holiday themed birthday presents

For the first cushion I initially sketched a few ideas of seaside themed scenes before settling on a seagull based image. I then spent a lazy Saturday morning looking at pictures of seagulls on Google to get to know them better and used these initial sketches to create more stylised seagulls with a bit more character for my final design.

Although quite time consuming, it is so satisfying to build up the picture – taking time to choose the materials from my ever growing collection of scrap fabric, create templates to cut out the individual shapes and then finally layer and sew them with a variety of coloured threads.

Seagull cushion collage

The time consuming but so satisfying steps to creating the final piece

I am really pleased with the finished results and was so chuffed when I saw my Dad’s reaction when he received them. I know they have found a happy home in his caravan.

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                                 Dad’s reaction to my handmade presents made me so happy x

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The cushions in their new home

Our break away offered lots of inspiration for more creative pieces with a seaside theme. We enjoyed some beautiful sunny days exploring the wonders of Cornwall, visiting the stunning beaches and fishing villages and of course indulging in the obligatory cream teas and fish and chips.

Seaside inspiration collage

Sunny seaside inspiration from beautiful Cornwall 

Scones

Cornish or Devon style?

Fish and Chips

Nothing more delicious than freshly caught fish accompanied by chips – yummy!

When the sun was shining it truly felt like we could have been abroad, especially when we visited the amazing beach at Holywell Bay which was literally walking distance from the holiday park we were staying at.

Holywell Bay, Cornwall

Could be abroad with that sky and sea 

Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end and so after a lovely relaxing week we returned to the slightly less sunny Bedford. The only recompense for the post-holiday blues that will inevitably descend upon us is that my sewing machine is now close at hand ready for me to create some more seaside inspired pieces – I can’t wait!

Have your summer time jaunts given you crafty inspiration?

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A look back on my crafty year…

As a teacher, I have two beginnings each year, one in January and one in September. These mark two new fresh starts for me and although I am not a person who particularly believes in making new year’s resolutions, on occasions these times in the year do encourage a flurry of action in me, particularly if I have an ambition in mind.   The last time this happened to me was back in the new year of 2010 when I signed up to the dating site OKCupid and by January 2011 I had met and moved in with Mr B, my lovely husband.

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Unsurprisingly a handmade knitted version made an appearance on the big day!

It was in September last year, in another flurry of action, I decided this was the year to start on a new journey and expand my crafting skills in new directions. Since then I have embarked on a busy year of learning and have met some really lovely people along the way.

Learning to sew was my first foray, although I had tinkered with my Mum’s sewing machine whilst making superhero masks and capes for my husband’s stag do, I really wanted to feel more confident and able to create more professionally finished items.  After a short search via Facebook, I enrolled on a beginners sewing course with the lovely Janet over at KitchenTableSewing who, over the course of four evenings and fueled by cups of tea and wonderful homemade cakes, helped me to master the basics of using a sewing machine and produce some wonderful first makesDSC_0205 DSC_0208 DSC_0212 DSC_0223

Can you guess which superheroes they represent??

As usual once the I had been bitten by the bug it was hard for me to stop so inspired by my success on the beginners course I proceeded to create at least 75% of my Christmas presents for friends and family using the sewing machine and learnt a couple of new patterns and processes in the progress.

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My Christmas sewing bounty!

I have since returned to the kitchen table for more cakey yumminess and, of course, sewing guidance from Janet, attending two more of her courses, making my very own Coco from the Tilly and the Buttons pattern and a pair of fancy knickers using some fantastic Liberty print fabric. I was also inspired enough to buy my own machine, a super duper Janome DSK100, which has made my sewing experience so lovely and saved a lot of time with its numerous nifty time saving gadgets.

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Some very fancy pants sewn on my super duper machine x

As the New Year approached I decided that my next skill to master would be needle-felting. This was a skill I felt I could teach myself (perhaps with a little help from the internet) and so bought myself a kit to make a felted hedgehog from Hobbycraft.  Although little Wimpole, as my nephew and niece soon Christened him, was a bit rough around the edges I was pretty proud of my first attempt at this new skill.

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Meet Wimpole the Hedgehog

Next I tackled what had become, as a seasoned knitter at least, my nemesis – crochet!  It has always appealed to me but when I have attempted it previously I have found that my knitting technique has worked against me. Professional help was definitely needed. So on a wet Wednesday evening in March I travelled to Hitchin to a recent yarn discovery, the fantastic Knit Knacks shop, and settled in for an evening of wool and hooks.

In the company of three other crochet novices and with the assistance of resident expert Helen Ingram who runs Woolly Chic, a fantastic website selling hand sourced British wool and crochet/knitting kits, I finally got through my hook block and managed to produce a lovely crochet flower by the end of the evening. In these few hours my wool nemesis had become an ally to its much loved knitted friend.

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Floral crochetness x

The final destination on my crafting journey involved travelling the longest distance yet as I signed up for a workshop at Needle and Thread (near Lincoln) to learn how to create textile art using applique and free motion embroidery with the very talented Cathy Emmott of Dear Emma Designs.

I have always admired this kind of needle work and had been searching for a workshop to attend for a long time so was so pleased when I came across this gem.  Over a busy six hours Cathy inspired and assisted a lovely group of twelve crafty enthusiasts to become novice needle and thread artists. This was a fantastic conclusion to my crafty year and definitely worth the four hour round journey!

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Cathy’s inspirational needlework x

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The novice needle and thread artists proudly present their work x

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My design in progress

The last twelve months have certainly been busy and I have really enjoyed learning new crafting skills. I wonder what the next twelve months will hold for me.

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Make new friends but keep the old…

It has been an exciting week for me at sarahkatemakes headquarters, as well as joining the friendly ‘bloggersphere’, I have also become a tweeter, something which I am not sure I am ready for but which I am optimistic about having a go at. I am hoping my new blogging buddy Lucy, at mrsbishopsbakesandbanters, might be able to offer some useful advice as she seems to be a social media queen and is definitely a very friendly blogger with an amazing page.

As you might expect I have been mentioning my new blog to all who will sit still enough to listen or at least read a Facebook message sent by yours truly.   This included my quite untechnological Mum; knowing she wouldn’t have seen it via any social media I made sure when I popped round to her house to take my tablet and share it with her that way.

Once she had finished reading it and given her feedback (thankfully positive). She offered to return the Polly Dolly to me who has sadly been living in a drawer for the last decade or so.

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As you can see she is a strange looking individual and things just get a bit stranger when you lift her up and see the stuffing falling out or take down her hat and see her balding head (sadly or perhaps thankfully, I took no pictures of these features).

She was definitely an interesting choice for my first proper knitting project. She allowed me to practise a number of handy techniques including increasing, decreasing, colour changes and making miniature items (as seen in her peddler’s basket), all of which I have applied many times since.

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I’ve always had good tension with my knitting and this certainly suited this make. Adding to this my tendency to be a crafting perfectionist meaning that whatever the purpose of the final item I won’t say it is finished until I think I’ve done it to the highest standard I can achieve. Despite her unique features I have to say I am quite proud of how she turned out.

Polly was the beginning of my love affair with wool and it was lovely to be reacquainted with her, however she has become quite comfy in her new home so she has been returned to her drawer at Mum’s house.  Perhaps one day she’ll find a nice comfy spot in my dream craft room and I’ll finally give her top and bottom the finishing touches she deserves so she can have pride of place.

It’d be great to hear where it all started for you, what was your first crafting make and did it have a specific purpose or was it a flight of fancy like Polly Dolly?