For The Man Who Has Everything

A colleague of mine with a penchant for fancy socks is retiring this year.
To honour him, I was commissioned to create a bouquet of…. socks.

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It was exactly the kind of challenge I love!
I spent a week or so thinking about how to go about it and then I sat down and got started.
I had six pairs of socks, so ended up with twelve “blooms.” Each sock became a single flower. After some trial and error, I ended up using some embroidery thread to gather each sock, using a running stitch along the bottom of the sock and pulling it tight. You can see in the photo where I stitched each one, indicated by the red dotted line.

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Once each sock was gathered, I just wrapped the gathered edge together, using the toe as the centre of each flower. A few stitches secured each one in place and soon I had twelve rosette-style flowers.

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What do to for stems? I decided to use a black button for each flower’s centre, securing it to a paper straw with a dab of hot glue (I stuck the shank of the button into the opening at one end of the straw). Then, I slid the straw through the centre of the rosette; the button stopped it from falling out. A few more stitches of embroidery thread through the paper straw and the sock to hold each flower together and, ta-da! Twelve sock roses!

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Next up, I used garden twine to make a French-tied bouquet and then tied on a jaunty polka-dotted ribbon I’ve been saving in my stash for just such an occasion.

When he is ready to wear the socks, all the recipient has to do is snip the embroidery thread (I was sure to use contrasting colours so that it would be easy to see) and unfurl each sock. The perfect bouquet to extend the length of time between loads of laundry!

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My colleague was delighted with his bouquet, I am happy to report.

Peggy Goes

There are so many exciting projects afoot here at Delovely HQ, but no time for photo-taking and documenting, so you will have to be patient while I restore a semblance of order to our daily lives before I can share with you some of the fun stuff we are up to around here.

In the meantime, I must introduce you to someone who stole my heart the second I saw her. Meet Peggy.

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When I was little, I made clothes-peg dolls by the dozens, taking hours and hours to make each one unique, making clothes, hair, faces and dreaming up individual stories and personalities and relationships for them. My mum found them stored in her basement and gave them back to me– they are hilarious! And I can still remember each and every one of them, as though they were real people. If we ever find my sewing room again in this chaos, I will be sure to post them for you to see so you can have a laugh.

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Knowing how I feel about clothes peg dollies (and about a certain someone named Peggy), you can imagine how my heart skipped a beat when I saw this enchanting little lady at Liberty! Peggy is busy– she goes on holiday, to the shops, to work, to Mexico…. Isn’t this a clever idea? What a sweet gift she would make for a sewist or other crafty sort.

 

I have this thing…

…about changing my living room décor to reflect the seasons. It involves “lightening” the accents in the room by removing the ruby-red raw silk drapes and the warm, nubbly linen and raw silk cushion covers and replacing them with more summery fabrics.

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This year, we are embarking on a big renovation and so I did not want to go all the way– dredging out the seashells and starfish to make the living room feel beachy– rather, I wanted a quick fix that would still say summer without all the fuss and muss, as I figure fuss and muss are to be had in spades in the weeks ahead.

I was lucky enough to score a real deal on some curtains from Ikea. They were in the “As-Is” room and were in perfect condition, but had been used in a display, so could not be resold at full price. I scooped them up immediately, despite the fact that they were tab-tops.

Dear Interweb, I really hate tab-top curtains. They don’t function well and they don’t look good.

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I had elaborate plans to get rid of the tabs by cutting them off and then sewing a channel to make a pocket for the curtain rod and then, out of nowhere, it hit me: there was an easier, BETTER way!

So here is what I did:

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I folded the tabs over to the rear of the curtain and pinned them in place.

Next, I machine-stitched each tab in place along the top (now the bottom) of the tab to create the look of pleater tape without the hassle of pleater tape. I threaded the rod through the loops made from the tabs on the rear of each panel and that, my friends, was that.

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The result?
(A bit hard to see in our north-facing living room, I admit.)
For $20 and 20 minutes of work, I have a light, summery linen look that lets my new cushions with their bright persimmon-coloured birds pop.

Blinded By The Bright


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On a budget? Who isn’t, really?
Here is a way to brighten up for spring (in the northern hemisphere, that is) without breaking the bank.

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Take an IKEA blind and a table runner (or any pretty bit of fabric!) and stitch the latter to the bottom of the former.

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Ta-da! Bright, cheery, custom blinds on a budget!
Total cost: under $25 per blind.
I made two and it took me all of two (very fun) hours.
I love (near-) instant gratification, don’t you?

These are for a friend’s kitchen in her new place. Since I can’t yet show you how they look installed, I made a (blurry!) little gif.

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Happy weekend, everyone!

Confetti Garlands

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This weekend, I had the pleasure of making some thank you gifts for a couple of teenaged girls. Both of them are currently at boarding school and will be off to university next year, so I thought they might like a little something to personalize their spaces. I decided that confetti garlands would be cute.
When I Instagrammed a photo of the process, the lovely Kate Durie asked for a tutorial. So here it is!

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I made myself some of these a few months back and it is an easy, fun craft.
You will need a few little supplies.

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I decided to use one “main” colour, plus three complimentary and contrasting colours. Punch out more of the “main” colour and successively fewer of each of the next two colours. For the “accent,” or contrasting, colour, punch out only a few. I used my little floral punches, but any shape will do.
How about hearts? Circles in varying sizes?
Don’t have a punch? Why not cut out squares?
Try using patterned paper or a mix of patterned and plain.

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Arrange your piles of confetti by colour and then fire up your sewing machine.
(You will need to replace your needle after you are finished– you don’t want to be sewing fabric with a needle you have dulled by sewing paper!)
Place the first piece of confetti under the needle and slowly stitch across it; line up the next piece and repeat.
Keep going, stitching a long, looooong row of confetti together.
For the colour pattern, I was just pretty random, but you could be more mathematical about it if you prefer. To keep the thread from unravelling at either end, I sandwiched the ends between a bit of glitter tape at each end of the garland. You could use washi tape or sandwich the thread ends between two bits of confetti with a dab of glue.

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Use the garland swagged over a curtain rod (I do!), as “ribbon” for wrapping gifts, draped over a mirror, or just taped to the wall or the ceiling with some fancy tape. Use it to pretty up your daily decor or for a party.

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No sewing machine?
No worries– check back here on Wednesday for the “by-hand” version of the project!

Emily

Dickinson, that is.

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Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune– without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

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One of my favourite poems inspired a bit of bunting I gave to an English teacher friend for her birthday. The gorgeous embroidered rick-rack came from a lovely little shop in Bath— alas, I cannot remember what it was called.
The buttons are made of tagua and I bought them in Ecuador.

You could easily do something similar with a holiday theme.

Fluffy Pom-Poms

I have had a little collection of snowball-like pom-poms in my stash for a few years. I got them in one of the infamous grab-bags put together at Mokuba*. The grab bags contain bits and bobs of leftover trims and ribbons and are a stitchin’ lady’s dream; the prices at Mokuba can run to three digits per meter, so getting leftover snippets can be a real score!

With the onset of shoe-clip mania inside my head, I could hardly wait to work my precious snowballs into some clips. Sadly, though there were four poms, there were two teeny-tiny ones (too small to be useful individually), a mid-sized one and a jumbo– I’d need two the same size in order for my plan to work. The mid-sized one, with some pretty dark red felt leaves I cut out and stitched together, made a divine shoe accessory! Yay!
But then I had to go with an asymmetrical approach, using either the jumbo pom or the two teensy ones. I opted for the latter and worked in a few little dark red mini-poms that remind me of berries. So, the two clips are different, though in the same family. I am pretty happy with them, but will be heading down to Mokuba to splash out on another mid-sized snowball so that I can have a matching pair.

I think they will be sweet to add a bit of festive whimsy to an outfit over the holidays, don’t you?

*When I lived in France, while all my friends went on trips to Brugge and Amsterdam to take in the sights, I made pilgrimages to Paris to go to Mokuba. I still have the ribbon I bought then– guess what I’m gonna make with it? Shoe clips!

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Last week I was commissioned to make my former (now retired– lucky girl!) boss some shoe clips to tart up her Louboutins so that they would go with a new outfit she plans to wear to a wedding.

These were our inspiration:

Source.

Here is what I came up with. It was so much fun and not at all difficult– why not try it out? Shoe clips are tiny, so you can make them with scraps you have on-hand. I am excited to whip up some more over the next few weeks.

I got my clips at Sussman’s, but they are readily available online (for less!) if you can’t find a local supplier.

I both stitched and glued the clips I made– I wanted them to be sturdy, so a tiny bit of hot glue under the clip itself just added a bit of security to my hand-stitching.

The next step was to wrap them up nicely and send them on their way to adorn a pair of shoes much fancier than my cheapies! 😉 Here’s to dancing the night away in pretty shoes!

Go Figure

Every year (for the past 5 or so, anyway), I make aprons to sell at my little stall. They have, historically, been a HUGE hit. They are made from tea towels and pretty grosgrain ribbon and look very sweet on, while simultaneously being very hard-wearing. I think the latter is an important factor in an apron; I have a growing collection of darling vintage aprons, but I am always a bit afraid to wear them, as they are far too precious to ruin by getting cooking mess on them! The tea towel aprons solve that problem as, if they get dirty, they wash and dry like a dream.

People buy them by the bunch, stocking up on them to use as hostess gifts and stocking stuffers, birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day gifts. In preparing my wares this year, I found I had only a very few aprons left from last year, so I made sure to make about 40 more aprons.

And hardly any of them sold. Not very many people wanted aprons, not even my regulars. Not even people who told me they couldn’t wait for my stall so they could lay in their yearly supply of aprons…. Weird, no?

Oh, well; I won’t make any new ones for next year– I already have a good stash on-hand!

I also sold some of the bias-tape bracelets and vintage button hairbands and barrettes I made during my sabbatical year (when I had time for hours upon hours of hand-sewing!).

The bias tape is made by Liberty of London (insert swoon-fest here) and I bought it in France at La Droguerie, a store that delighted and gutted me at the same time; the former because it was so gorgeous and full of beauty and inspiring ideas and buttons and buttons and buttons and every kind of perfectly divine notion, the latter because it would never fly here in North America because we are so unwilling to pay what beautiful things are worth…

(Please excuse the blurry photos: bad lighting + cell phone camera = not the clearest pix.)