Friday, 30 November 2012

Wedding Craftiness

It has been brought to my attention that I've been horribly lazy in regards to updating this blog (not the exact words used, but whatever.) I thought it had only been a month, 6 weeks tops, since I last updated, but lo and behold, my last post was in June. Oops. I can only offer flimsy excuses, such as summer holidays, wedding planning and running our Etsy shop, combined with an outbreak of chicken pox followed by a nasty cold (the kids, not me.) Oddly, I've been crafting more than ever, but some things, like the wedding stuff, I want to keep close to my chest so as the wedding guests haven't seen everything before they even get there. That being said, I'll have a few sneak peeks for you today.

First is this lovely glass cake stand, one of six that were donated by my bridesmaid Clare. They were used at her brother's wedding and they'll form part of our table centrepieces too. We had been worried about the flowers being overshadowed by the mass of cups and glasses that litter a wedding dinner table, and had been at a loss for how how to elevate them a bit. The cake stands solve that problem brilliantly and fit in with our vintage-y look.

Next it's part of our cake topper, which I'm showing now only because I think it may get overlooked at the wedding itself.

I'm not a huge fan of traditional wedding cake toppers (I'm not a huge fan of traditional wedding anything, but that's another story) so of course we had to think up something awesome. Simple Lego bride and groom figures seemed too boring too, so, in a flash of inspiration, we decided to create these. Since hubby to be is from London, and I'm from Ireland, we found appropriate Lego costumes (a Royal Guard and a Leprechaun) and heads that looked most like us (mine isn't nearly as spot on as his is!) We just have to make some adjustments to my head to make the hat sit at a jaunty angle, and then we're all set :)

And also, rather excitingly, our wedding rings arrived. They were handmade by the wonderful Chris Parry and have our fingerprints inside. Mine has his print inside and vice versa.

I also sorted out the favours for the male guests. Again, for a while I was at a complete loss for what to do. I wanted the favours at the wedding to be a bit more special than the usual fare, but not wildly expensive. I decided to opt for tins of mints, but then finding suitable tins for under £1 each (which was my budget) was next to impossible. Then, one day I was browsing Amazon and stumbled upon a 12 pack of Altoids for £11, so job done! We covered them in scrapbook paper, and now they're all ready to go.

So wedding stuff is picking up steam. Invites are also about 85% completed, and I'll be sending them out at the beginning of January. I've also bowed to public pressure and established a colour scheme. Despite my insistence that I didn't want a colour scheme, there's a huge part of me that's really quite precise about these types of things, and I'm slightly obsessed with the idea of coherence in whatever it is I'm doing, be it decorating my house, stocking our shop or planning this wedding. So I set the colour scheme as yellow and blue, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Tardis blue cake, despite everyone thinking that it is. I can't say enough times that my perfectionist nature doesn't extend as far as matching a cake to my wedding colours, but nobody believes me. The cake is blue because the Tardis is blue. The wedding colours are blue and yellow because there's yellow in my dress and I accidentally stumbled on a blue bridesmaid dress that I loved, while searching for alternatives when my sister basically refused to wear yellow. Things that won't be included in this colour scheme include, but aren't limited to, table decor, flowers, favours and invites, so it's pretty loose.

So anyway, that's my wedding update, but I'll be back soon with more craftiness and photos of the results of the mountain of sewing I've been doing over the past two months.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Wedding DIY

 Despite the sheer volume of stuff needing done, the wedding DIY is on hold for the moment. Mostly because I'm working on a custom order for the Etsy store that's kicking my ass, but also because we're a bit stressed at the moment, what with kittens, and Jake's upcoming surgery, and holiday plans to deal with. But before all that, we actually did get quite a bit done.

There are 148 colourful paper birdies in that bag but since the photo was taken, we've gotten up to 226. We were actually making quite good progress on them - this lot were done while I watched back to back episodes of Upstairs Downstairs. But then we hit a problem. We didn't know how to hang them. Originally we wanted a cascade of cranes hanging from the ceiling behind us when we got married, but the venue wouldn't allow us to hang things from the ceiling. So then we thought about stringing them inside a folding screen, where the paper parts would normally be. But that was looking to be expensive, plus a logistical nightmare, what with the wedding being in Ireland. Also, it wasn't really the same effect. So we looked at other things - a wedding arch, pipe and drape event screening, all sorts. But nothing really clicked. Until yesterday.

I'm not a huge fan of balloons at weddings. I don't know why, I just don't like the look. But I've made a compromise on this point - no, we won't be having balloon centrepieces. I haven't compromised that much. Instead, we're going to get coloured matte balloons, fill them with helium, string the cranes from them, and let them float up to the ceiling. Then we'll tie them to weights at the bottom, and hey presto! Our cascade of cranes! The ceilings in the hotel are pretty standard, so it won't be super high. I'm pretty pleased with myself for coming up with that - I'm sure it's been done before and whatnot, but I was totally drawing a blank. And now the crane folding can continue!

We also folded 30 ish cranes in old sheet music, sort of as a tribute to the people who won't be there. Namely the boyfriend's Dad and my paternal grandparents, who were all very musical people. It seemed fitting.

Other than that, there's a ton of wedding crafts to be getting on with - we did mock ups of the hand-made invites, and they totally rock. But I'm a bit worried that they won't go down too well with some of the more traditional members of the family. There's also the small matter of fifty million paper roses to make (okay, not that many, but it feels like it!)

That's what a box of paper roses looks like. As you can tell, we're not going for any specific colours. We're not really having a colour scheme as such, so I'm opting for complementary colours as far as possible. I have no idea how many I'll need but I have tons of paper so eventually I'll stop :) In fact, this is the project I'm most itching to get on with, so I can mock up a few centrepieces to work out how many flowers I'll need - and I haven't even chosen the paper for my bouquet!

Anyway, that's as far as we've gotten. Things will be pretty quiet around here for a while. Jake has facial surgery on the 4th of July and we're understandably worried about that. I'll be sure to update you all on how he gets on.

Monday, 11 June 2012

My own sewing room ... at last!

So I've finally submitted my last assignment for uni, which is a huge relief and means that I can focus on sewing and wedding stuff without feeling guilty! I'm taking a year out now, so for the first time in a good while, I feel relaxed. The last time I took a break from uni, it was because I was pregnant, and anyone with kids knows that the first few months after a baby is born is anything but relaxing. This time around I've got lots of lovely projects to occupy my time, and the kids are all a little bit older and more manageable (in theory.)

Also, I now have my own little craft room. Up until last month, my sewing machine and assorted notions lived in the corner of our bedroom, and when I wanted to start a project, I had to wait until the kids were asleep and drag it all downstairs. And as for fabric, thread etc storage, it was non-existent. Well, we decided to move Olly into his older brothers' room, because that room is massive, and he seemed a little sad and lonely all by himself, especially in the mornings when he could hear them playing and mucking about, and he was stuck in his cot in the next room. The three of them are getting on well together in there, and they'll probably stay there for the foreseeable future. That freed up Olly's room to be turned into a craft room/ guest room. No actual decorating took place, just moving furniture around really, but I'm chuffed with it. I have a little haven away from all the chaos around here!

So this is the result - not as nice as some peoples craft rooms, but it suits me fine at the moment. On the right is my  sewing table. We bought a new table in Ikea, that has a wide, shallow drawer perfect for keeping thread in. The chair is just recycled from around the house. Next to the table you can just make out the top of my fabric basket.
The long curtains hide a whole bunch of stuff not related to crafting, but I cleared out one row of shelving specifically for my things. So my sewing box, cross stitch basket and various wedding related projects sit nicely in there, along with sewing and knitting books. And that's my wedding dress hanging up in its bag too :)
Then on the far left there's a hangy thing from Ikea that I keep all my yarn in. In spring and summer I don't always feel so much like knitting, but I'm trying to learn to crochet so I can make a few ripple blankets and amigurumi. Hanging on the front of it is pattern pieces for a skirt and a simple top I'm working on. I find it easier to hang up my cut out paper pieces on skirt hangers to keep them from creasing - that way I can use them again without having to cut a new pattern. And I can mark any notes on it, like add 2 inches to hem, or take in 2 inches from the sides. And underneath all of that is a box with paper for my wedding flowers in.

My little sewing nook. I finally got to display the last few pieces of art I bought a while back - various comic ladies in Victorian style dress. I also hung up some of the finished cross stitch samplers that we made for the store before we switched to PDF patterns.

So that's that! It certainly helps to have somewhere to lay out all my work, and not have to worry about tidying it all away again. I also take my time with projects now, fitting in half an hour here and there, instead of trying to rush to get it all done in one or two evenings, when I'm already tired.

My first post university project was a skirt, using the Crescent Skirt pattern from Sewaholic, which I love. I bought 2 metres of cotton lawn from the sale bin and got to work. Unfortunately there were one or two snags along the way, and it doesn't look perfect, but every time I do this pattern, I learn how to make it better. I also learnt that I don't like using regular polyester dress lining - it's too slippery and annoying! Anybody have any alternatives? I was thinking of using cotton muslin perhaps.

This is it all completed, minus the final press at the hem. I added a lace trim to the lining on a whim, and I really like the way it came out! The zip at the back in untidy, once again, as I really haven't got the knack of sewing them in yet, but I'm overall pleased with it. I also need to take it in a bit, as it's noticeably loose on the waist. Anyways, I'm going to be working on a dress next, but I have a custom order to complete for the store before I can start.

I'll be back fairly soon with an epic length wedding DIY update. I bet you can't wait!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Versatile Blogger - My First Blog Award

It will come as no surprise that I've never won any kind of blog award. Mainly because I'm often guilty of criminally neglecting this poor blog when life gets busy, like just recently. But, while taking a sneaky hour to catch up on some blogs this morning, I noticed to my surprise that the lovely Jennie from Fancy Dresscapades has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award! Some bloggers may be well used to receiving awards like this, but this is my very first, and I'm grateful to Jennie for passing it on to me. You should all check out her blog too, as she is he very definition of a versatile blogger, covering loads of topics, from cosplay, to vintage style, and even her own wedding plans.

I also have to give everyone 7 unknown things about myself, and this may be a bit of a struggle, because I'm pretty much an open book!

1. I have a crazy secret crush on Gambit from the X-Men that I've kept pretty quiet about. There's plenty about him that's despicable but I can't resist his charm!

2. I love dresses, but the combination of perpetually breezy Scottish weather and insecurities about my legs means I more often than not resort to wearing jeans instead. I wish I could be a bit braver with my style choices.

3. I don't like dogs. I mean, really don't like dogs. I live in a neighbourhood with tons of dog owners, so I try not to be too vocal about it though.

4. I'm uncomfortable with direct eye contact. I've no idea why. I don't think it's part of any larger problem, but I'd rather focus on a person's mouth that their eyes. It freaks me out.

5. I love dinosaurs. Always have, always will! I wish I'd studied paleontology at university, but it didn't seem the the most sensible of choices back then.

 6. My kids were named after comic characters! Some people know that, but loads don't, so I think it counts. The characters in question are Ben Grimm (aka Thing), Jake Olson (one of Thor's earthly identities) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)

7.  I'm not keen on other people's kids. I love my own, of course, and other family members but I've never been a kid person.

I also have to pass the award on to some other bloggers. There's a wide range of subject matters here, so hopefully something for everyone. I recommend you check them out.

All Things Made

The Agoraphobic Fashionista

Jenny Stitches


Circle 7-2099

Pretty Little Pictures

Shozzy's Place

It's A Good Place To Start

Anywho, I promise I'll be back more often soon. I hand in my final assignment for uni on May 31st, and after that I'm taking a break from studying for a while. I didn't want final exams etc to be happening around the wedding next year, and to be honest, I'm in no rush to finish. That's the great thing about the OU, you can finish your degree at your own pace. I won't be going out to work again until Olly is in primary 1 at least, so I have plenty of time.

I have quite a few things to share, wedding related and otherwise, so hopefully I'll be updating regularly from the end of May.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Comeback Kid

Apologies for being gone for so long. I'm studying creative writing at the minute and it appears to be using up all my writing mojo as well as my will to live. Besides that, I've also got wedding panning stuff going on. For those who aren't aware yet, the wedding was moved forward to April 18th next year, and while a year seems like plenty of time to sort things out, when you're making a lot of the decor, favours etc yourself, it actually seems like no time at all. Plus, the boyfriend and I have completely opposing tastes in music, which is becoming a major problem, as choosing ceremony music is making me want to kill him :(

I've also changed the direction and focus of my etsy store, moving away from completed cross stitch samplers, which weren't selling well, and on to original geeky patterns that customers can stitch themselves. We've invested in pattern making software and we've already made 4 sales this week. That might not seem like a lot, but it's super exciting for us. If any of you are cross stitch inclined, head over and check it out. We're really flexible about custom orders too - I just made a tinkerbell pattern for a customer, even though it's not something we usually would do, so if you would like something different, just ask! And be sure to pass it on! All funds go towards our wedding, so we'd appreciate any shout outs you could give us.

In other shop news, I will be maintaining another blog specifically for the store, including news on new patterns, works in progress and discount codes. You can find it here and I recommend you become a follower too :D I have a new Twitter account specifically for shop news too, @capesandcrafts, and if you're very lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a creature rarer than a unicorn. The tweeting boyfriend! There's already a discount code active and available through to the end of May. You can find it at the bottom of this Daily Waffle article. And finally, a Facebook page for the shop, where I'm hoping people will be able to share photos of their completed patterns! I'm updating stock at least twice a week and we've got tons of new pattern ideas knocking around our brains, so there should be a great amount of choice pretty soon.

Doctor Who pattern - £2.30

Black Books quote pattern - £2.30

Game of Thrones Night's Watch oath pattern £2.30
My eyes practically bled designing that last one, and discovering I'd left out a bit at the beginning almost made me give up completely, but it's one of my favourites now, so I'm glad I didn't! So remember to check the store regularly, make it one of your favourites and pass it on if you like it. We'd be super grateful :D

Saturday, 3 March 2012

My Etsy Shop is Open!!

I have finally opened my Etsy store, which will hopefully add a little bit of money to the wedding fund. You can go and check it out here. There are only a few things up at the monent, and I'm hoping to add more today. I'm also doing a giveaway on Daily Waffle - you can win some of my hand made cross stitch badges. So why not check out the tutorial and enter?

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Joy of a Good Fabric Store

One of my pet peeves is when I am shopping online for fabric, and find a print I really love, only to find that the reasonable price is actually for a fat quarter and not a full metre or yard. This is one of the main reasons why I have used old superhero sheets for a lot of my sewing jobs, as they are tons cheaper, and when lined properly, work just as well as heavier fabrics. Plus, they seem to have the widest range of interesting motifs. However, on my latest search for sheets to use for upcoming projects, I came away empty handed, so I decided, just on the off chance, to have a look at new fabrics on eBay. I was looking specifically for superhero motifs, and that can be surprisingly tricky to find in the UK.

As per usual, there were endless listings of cute fabrics which were £4-5 for a fat quarter - prices that I'm just not willing to pay. Finally though, a listing caught my eye, that promised fabric 'sold by the yard.' And lo and behold, I found the most amazing fabric seller I've yet come across on eBay. Though situated in the US, The Pirate's Royal Bootie have great international shipping prices (up to 12 yards can be sent to Europe for under $17) and a fantastic range of printed cotton. I was there for the DC Super Friends prints, and also got some Transformers and Toy Story for the kids, but I spotted Snoopy, Disney Princesses, Hello Kitty, High School Musical and countless other branded, and non branded fabrics, most for under £5 a yard! I can't think of a single physical fabric shop in Glasgow that could match those prices. And for any quilters out there, the store also stocks a great range of panels.

I seriously recommend you check this store out - it only took a week for my fabric to arrive, beating some UK sellers, and Elizabeth, who runs the eBay store, is just lovely - a total pleasure to deal with and makes the shopping experience so easy. Considering that I've had a run of bad luck with eBay sellers recently, she restored my faith in ordering from overseas. I've ordered from her twice now, and she will be my first stop when I need fabric in the future. Check out my haul. This is just the first batch of fabrics I bought - the second batch is basically just more of these prints.

 I originally only bought 1 yard each of the Transformers and Buzz Lightyear fabrics, with vague ideas of adding them to my ever growing stash of boy friendly kids fabrics. But when the twins saw them, they thought they were totally awesome, and I've decided to make them little bean bag chairs, so I've ordered more.

I also bought two cute batman prints, which I'm going to turn into bunting. Because if there's one thing the Dark Knight loves, it's festive party decor. I've ordered a lot more of the darker print, which I may also turn into a skirt.

And finally, I got a yard each of these cute super friends prints, featuring Superman and Green Lantern. As yet, they have no pressing purpose, but I'm sure I'll think of something soon.

As soon as I've finished some projects I'll share them here. And remember, go visit The Pirate's Royal Bootie and just try not to spend a fortune on fabrics!

EDIT: Check out the comments for a postage discount for my readers from the lovely Elizabeth!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Wedding Planning and Other Hijinks

So, it's the beginning of a new year and a perfect chance to start some new projects in earnest. The biggest and most daunting of which is planning a wedding. That's right, the boyfriend wonder finally stepped up and popped the question. Ideally we would have had the wedding next April or May, but some good friends are getting married in France next summer, and we can't really afford to throw a wedding and go to France in the same year. Plus, a lot of our guests would be attending both, and it's not really fair, as they'd all have to travel to Belfast for our big day. So it'll be spring 2014, which isn't really all that far away when you think about it. Especially when we'll only have a few trips to check out venues etc. However, I've already started looking at venues - the Ulster Museum and the Grand Opera House are the current front runners.

Ulster Museum wedding - Photo credit (and stunning wedding photos) here
 You can't see it in that picture, but there's a Triceratops skeleton on the second floor, which both me and the boyfriend wonder agree is just awesome!

As the wedding will be a semi DIY affair, this blog may become a tad more wedding orientated, especially as I'm buying many things early to try and spread the cost. Some of the wedding favours will be made by me, likewise the confetti alternatives for the service. And of course, we must get back on track with our crane folding! In an attempt to drum up some cash for the big day though, I'm going to be opening an etsy shop next month which will be called Capes and Crafts and will sell mostly cross stitches and bunting of the nerdy variety.

All the proceeds will be going towards the wedding fund, and I may even be buying my dress next month, as I've seen it on etsy and want to snap it up before someone else does! However, some aspects of the wedding are already causing headaches, as there are those who are probably a bit surprised by how untraditional and offbeat it'll be. When I laid down my 'no speeches' rule, I was almost immediately informed that I 'have to have speeches.' Of course, the only things I 'have' to do are the legal parts. So there may be a few cases of not backing down on traditional aspects which don't feel right for us.

Also, rather pathetically, during one of our wedding discussions, it was discovered that both I and the boyfriend are most excited about the prospect of at least one night in a hotel without the kids! As terrible as that sounds, I've never spent a night away from the kids, and I could certainly use it!

Stay tuned for more etsy updates as I start to fully stock my store, and a post about the best fabric seller I've found on eBay.