Archive for April, 2012

April 24, 2012

Sewing group does cake decorating

This week at sewing group we had a master class on cake decorating from a friend of one of the girls.

(Spot the sparkly apron we made Kate as a wedding present!)

We learnt how to cover a cake, make roses and leaves and write on the cake.  And the end result…

Not too bad but I think it would take a lot of practice to get good.  Also it’s so time consuming!  I couldn’t believe it took us all evening just to do this.  Big respect for people who do this so well.

I had to dash off at the end but took a couple of photos of the others…

Not bad for our first attempts.

April 22, 2012


I read about ‘thrifting’ on other people’s blogs and have this romantic idea of going into second hand shops and coming out with armfuls of beautiful vintage fabrics, quirky objects and items that can be up-cycled into wonderful new things.  The reality however, in my experience, is not like this.  I’ve popped into the local charity shop and come away empty handed many a time.

But recently I’ve had a little success!  Nothing too amazing but it’s a start. Last week I managed to pick up this decent sized piece of blue material for £5, which might become the back of a boy quilt sometime in the future, and some cotton dollies to add to a couple I got a few weeks ago.  I have a few ideas for these, and one now lives under the glass on my coffee table.

I also got some embroidery and needlework books from a few different shops when I was away in Norfolk last week.   All a couple of pounds each.

They’re all from the 60s/70s but my thinking was that the techniques will still be as relevant today.  In fact some of the designs are quite timeless, or they have come back into fashion.

I like the colour and the pattern of this front cushion


Interesting embroidery image


One of the few colour pages in 'Enjoying Embroidery'. Sadly most of them are black and white

So I am now inspired to carry on hunting out finds, but think I have learnt a couple of things:

  1. Know what you’re looking for.  That way you can go in and hunt them out.  I found that without an idea of the sort of things I wanted I was in danger of ending up with a load of stuff that I had no purpose for just because it was cheep,  or (more often in my case) coming away with nothing because nothing stands out.
  2. It makes a difference where you shop.  Thinking about it it’s obvious that the contents of the shop is going reflect the people in the local area who donate to it so it’s worth shopping in different places.
  3. Go often.  Because things change and you never know what you’re going to find.

Also while I was away I went into Jarrolds, an independent department store in Norwich, which has a lovely little haberdashery section.  I couldn’t resist getting some grosgrain ribbon in aqua, grey and flowers, some buttons and a length of this lovely patterned binding.

April 21, 2012

Sock Monkey Tutorial

A few years ago someone taught me how to make sock monkeys so that we could do it as an activity on a summer youth camp.  Since then I’ve done them with various groups and friends and they always go down well so I thought I’d have a go at my first tutorial.  Here goes…

Disclaimer/excuses: I started writing this post a while ago waited until the weekend so that I could take nice photos in the daylight, but it was such a dull day when I took them that I still needed the flash so the images are less than perfect.  Also I had a few monkeys at various stages of completion so I have used them to demonstrate the steps and therefore the colour/pattern changes.  Hopefully it isn’t too confusing.


  • 1 pair of ladies ankle socks (patterns are good but they need to be able to work upside down, so spots and stripes but not hearts)
  • Toy stuffing
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle and coordinating thread

Step 1: Cut 1st sock

Put one sock aside and lay the other out as shown.

Cut 1: Cut along the full length of the top of the sock approximately 2cm from the edge.  (Ensure that you don’t cut through the heel part.)  This is the tail piece.

Cut 1: The Tail

Cut 2: Cut the heel piece out approximately 0.5cm from where it changes colour.  This is the snout.

Cut 2: The Snout

Cut 3: Cut the the ankle section in half lengthways to make two arms.

Cut 3: The Arms

Cut 4: With the remaining foot section cut off the toe and cut the remaining piece in half widthways.  These will be the ears.  The toe can be discarded.

Cut 4: The Ears

Put all of these pieces to one side being careful not to lose any.

Step 2: Cut 2nd sock

Take the second sock and arrange it so that it lays flat with the heel on the top.

Ensure top and bottom layers are even

Starting at the opening cut up the centre of the sock finishing approximately 2cm from the heel.

Stop 2cm from the heel

These are the legs.

Step 3: Turn inside out

Take each piece of sock and turn them inside out or put right sides together and pin ready to sew.

Tail, arms and ears pinned

Legs pinned

Step 4: Sew limbs and ears

Take both arm pieces and the tail.  Machine sew (or hand sew using back stitch) along the long edge and one short edge, rounding the corners (for second arm sew both long edges).  Reverse to secure stitches at either end.

Trim corners after sewing

Take the ear pieces and sew a ‘u’ shape in each piece to form the ear. Trim edges to follow stitches.

I roughly try to line up the stitching with the pattern

Sew each leg separately.  Begin roughly 1cm from the top to allow a gap for turning.

Pins indicate the start of stitching

Step 5: Turn out and stuff

Trim all corners and turn right side out.

Starting to look more like a monkey!!

Next stuff the body with the toy stuffing until it is firm but not stretched.  Ensure that there is enough stuffing at the top of the legs so they’re not too floppy.  Using slip stitch, sew up the gap between the legs.

Slip stitch across the opening a couple of times to close the gap securely

Use a little bit of stuffing at a time to stuff the limbs.  Using a pencil push the stuffing to the end.

All pieces stuffed and ready to attach!

Step 6: Attach Limbs

The tail, arms, and ears all then need to be attached using slip stitch.  I like to tuck the ends in as I go round to make it neater but it doesn’t really matter.  I tend to hold the part in position and sew round using fairly large stitches to begin with and then go round once or twice more with smaller stitched to firmly attach in the following places…

Tail in the centre at the bottom of the back. This helps him/her to sit up!

One arm on each side about half way up the body. Ears just below the toe section of the head.

The snout then needs to be attached.  To do this first pin it in place in the centre at the front so that the edges come just below the ears.

Then begin to sew from one corner tucking the raw edges in as you go.  If you have it use the colour change on the sock as a guide.

Again use slip stitch and remove the pins as you work round

When you have sewn three quarters of the way round stop and stuff the snout.  Then continue stitching until complete.

Insert stuffing

Step 7: Add Eyes

Finally add eyes using one or two buttons, special toy eyes or felt if you’re worried about small parts.  And your sock monkey is complete!…

You can make boy monkeys, girl monkeys and even baby monkeys using children’s socks.  These are very cute!

Baby monkey

So there we are, a step by step guide to making a sock monkey.  I hope it is useful.  If you have any questions or need clarification on anything just let me know.

Happy sock monkey making!!

April 16, 2012

It’s not Christmas I know…

I have lots I want to blog about, I just need to find the time.  Get ready for embroidery, thrifting and a tutorial coming soon.  But for now I had to show you this…

A fantastic nativity scene


This is the creation of one of the ladies in sewing group.  Isn’t it amazing?!  She designed it (based on something she had seen but this looks way better) and made it all herself.

I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying that she is at the perfectionist end of the spectrum within the group.  This shows in the level of detail involved in each piece.

Mary and baby Jesus


Joseph, a wise man and the donkey with little pots of hay on its back!


A camel, shepherd and an angel


Incredibly she is now going to make more for other family members.  I’m sure they will be just as great.  Nice one Emma!

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