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Sunday Sevens #146

You may have noticed that I’ve had a break from Sunday Sevens, albeit entirely unintentional (Christmas, and all that), so here’s a heavily edited recap of things since the beginning of December.

1. We had another day trip on the Orient Express – a six hour journey through England and Wales during which we were served a seven course Christmas dinner. Wine pairings with every course was a nice extra that we hadn’t done before.

2. The friends that we went with.

3. The run up to Christmas was almost exhaustingly busy with something going on every day, including The Boy’s advent calendar in which they ‘do’ something Christmassy each day of advent. Here they are enjoying a car trip in their pyjamas to drive around looking at Christmas lights.

4. Together with one other resident, I cooked Christmas dinner for sixty villagers in the village hall.

5. No.3 Son sang a solo of my favourite carol “In The Bleak Mid Winter” before everyone sat down for dinner.

6. I managed to finish off this pair of socks for No.1 Son…..

7. ….and this cabled hat for his girlfriend’s mother.

8. After cooking lunch for my brother and his wife on Christmas Eve, we went to the carol service in our church. The Dogs drew loads of comments in their festive coats! Some friends joined us for supper afterwards and The Boys were excited to put their stockings out for Father Christmas for an early-ish night.

9. We went to church Christmas Day with The Boys and the service ended rather sombrely when the organist collapsed just before the last verse of the last carol. Being British, the congregation went on to sing unaccompanied and we all crept out silently as an ambulance was called.

A couple of family members short, Christmas dinner was a slightly quieter affair than usual – it seems I was lucky to get the ‘flu over and done with before Christmas. I didn’t feel lucky at the time, mind you!

10. Back up to full numbers on Boxing Day! Mr H-L is keeping the festive music going, in case you wondered what he was doing back there:)

11. We can ‘only’ seat 14 or 15 people comfortably around the dining table, so there was overspill into the kitchen end!

12. On the 27th, when we had a different set of guests, I invented a new solution to using up the leftovers – Christmas Dinner Pie! Literally all the remaining meat, stuffing and veg was made into a pie. It went down a treat with everyone.

13. Our last guests left on the 28th, which meant we had a couple of days to unwind before New Year’s Eve. ‘Unwinding’ in our house means PJs, games, festive films and Baileys:)

14. The Dogs were over the moon to have even more cuddle time than usual!

15. Unwinding for me also includes knitting/crochet – once I got the darning out of the way…..

16. I cast on and finished a single sock using the lovely yarn from my Stitching Santa parcel, which was immediately claimed by No.3 Son!

17. Before casting on the second sock, I cast on one for me using some Fyberspates yarn that I’ve had for a while and forgot about. After all that plain sock knitting, I was itching to do a pattern.

18. I even managed to nip up into the sewing room for a few hours and came down with this little project bag, perfect for small projects like socks. I may make some more for my online shop.

19. Just to make sure I don’t get bored (!), I started crocheting Granny squares in this Duck Egg DK. They’re going to be a blanket for a young couple that are getting married later this year.

20. Then the yarn orders started arriving…..I went on a bit of a spending spree with the money that had accumulated in my PayPal account.

21. All this sock yarn has a purpose – I want to make 2018 the year I wear only handknit socks. My New Year’s Resolution, I suppose.

Whilst I tend to knit playing socks using a self-striping yarn for other people, my own preference is for patterned socks using hand dyed yarn in luxury fibres. These are the three pairs I have knitted to date.

22. Progress on the pair currently on the needles, although I will have to knit No.2 Son’s other sock before the second one of this pair.

23. New Year’s Eve is spent with the same friends, only this was the first year we went to their house for the night, Just look at those incredible centrepieces!


25. We took No.2 Son back to school the following Sunday, which was hard having had him at home for three weeks.

26. With both boys back at school, Mr H-L and I went out for lunch one day. Fifi was treated to a bit of pork belly at the end.

27. On Saturday, Fifi’s heart began to race and her breathing became shallow. She was fine in herself and carried on as normal for most of the day and well into the evening. We took her to bed with us as normal but, at 1.50am yesterday morning, she stopped breathing.

28. Farewell, my faithful little companion – my heart is in pieces. Whatever will I do without you.


Stitching Santa Part 2

My second Stitching Santa parcel was a sewing one from Ali who blogs at Thimberlina and it came in the guise of a stuffed-to-the-brim red Christmas bag.

On to my second glass of Bailey’s by now, as it had taken me almost an hour to open and photograph the many contents of my first parcel from Bekki at DYC, I started by emptying the bag out onto the coffee table. Just look at that little lot, every single one individually wrapped again!

This metallic top-stitching thread is for my overlocker, but could probably be used on the sewing machine, too. I’ve never used this, so am keen to have a go.

Some embroidery thread with a lovely sheen. This won’t hang around for long as I do a surprising amount of decorative hand stitching.

I just love this little tin, although I think it will become a travel sewing kit as it’s the perfect size to throw in my bag.

I love these! They’re going to be saved for those really special projects that deserve something more than my humble labels.

Next was this bag of treasure……

See what I mean? Those turquoise buttons in the middle caught my eye straight away, as did the sparkly one on the pin. Then I spotted a familiar item from the past in the form of a matchbox.

Isn’t that a blast from the past?

Inside were the tiniest cranberry-coloured beads that will be perfect for lots of different things, the first idea that springs to mind is edging for a crocheted wine glass cover to keep the flies out.

The very next present I opened was this jar filled to the brim with numerous beads in all shapes and sizes. I have a shelf in my sewing room with all my beads and buttons stored in these Ikea jars, so this will sit right next to them.

The Boys have already claimed these, so I’ll have to think of a project to which they can be added.

This horsey print fabric was earmarked for The Boys too…..but I’m going to keep it for myself ‘cos it’s cute and will be wasted on them:)

I’m hoping there will be enough of this lovely knit fabric for a Coco, as it’s thick and perfect for Winter. There’s a good couple of metres, so I’m hopeful there will be enough – watch this space.

Time for a little hydration in between the Baileys – Ali sent me some sparkling spring water from her home county!

I’ll be on Ravelry looking for inspiration for these three little Merino beauties!

Ali made me some beautiful coasters from this very same speech-bubble fabric a couple of years ago, so I was thrilled to unwrap a hexi caddy in matching fabric. Handmade by Ali, of course, and much admired by me when I’d seen several other versions on her blog earlier in the year. This will live on the table in my sewing room, keeping all my essentials close to hand. And if I feel stressed I’ll just read out loud some of those quotes – that’s sure to cheer me up!

Several bundles of homemade bias tape is such a timesaver and will be put to good use. I remember loving the blue and white fabric when I saw it made into PJs on Ali’s blog.

Lacy trims because one can never have too many.

Two chunky zips will come in handy as I’ve never got one when I need it:/

Such a pretty doily and so intricate that I don’t think Ali made this one (please correct me if I’ve just insulted you, Ali!). I made my mother two little beaded covers that keep insects out of wine glasses for Christmas, so I totally appreciate the work that goes into these tiny stitches.

The next gift I opened made my heart skip a beat. I recall being totally inspired by the Raggedy Annie workshop that Ali attended, and here is one of the actual squares she made at said workshop! I recognise the sheep on the other side, but this side has a gorgeous pin from Wool And The Gang on it. I’d forgotten all about the workshop but, now I’ve had another read of the blog post, it will be a technique I’m trying in the New Year. You MUST head over to read Ali’s post to see what it’s all about!

Yay, my very own set of pattern weights and a bag to keep them in, too! I’ve made plenty for other people but somehow have never got around to making any for myself and end up using the weights from the kitchen scales most of the time.

As I unwrapped my final gift I had my fingers and toes crossed that it might be one of Ali’s famous peg bags – and I wasn’t disapponted! She put a sneak peek on her blog or IG and you could just make out the front opening so I was a bit excited, especially as she personalised it with hens for me. I can tell you now that it won’t be a peg bag though, it’s far too good to be shut in the broom cupboard all the time. It’s going to be used in my sewing room to keep those tiny (1″) scraps of fabric that I can’t bear to throw out. The plan is to make ‘new’ fabric from the scraps and re-purpose them into a scrappy quilt eventually.

Last but not least was the card that Ali had included which threw in the casual remark that I was right at the top of her list of sewing heroes – not too much pressure for the coming year then!

Seriously though, that is the nicest blog related compliment I’ve ever had, so ‘Thank you” Ali, and that goes for all of you wonderful, supportive Bloggers and IGers out there – what a fabulous community we are privileged to be a part of. Happy New Year to you all!!

Sheila xxx


Stitching Santa Part One

A belated Happy Christmas to everyone!

I didn’t get chance to sit down with my iPad in the two weeks running up to Christmas as things were so hectic here, what with hosting for two separate lots of people and with present-making continuing right up to the wire. I also made the decision to wait until the last guests had gone home before opening my two Stitching Santa parcels, which meant resisting the temptation to have ‘just a little peek’ until the 28th December.

The 28th – can you imagine the willpower needed!

Anyway, when the time came, I put on a Christmas film for The Boys to ensure no interruptions, poured myself a large glass of Bailey’s and recovered the last two presents from underneath the Christmas tree.

(Well, last-but-one, as the niece’s boyfriend appeared to have gone home without my noticing that he hadn’t opened our gift.)

At this point in the proceedings, the obligatory festive red dress and sparkly cardigan had been discarded in favour of ‘lounge wear’. But not just any lounge wear, oh no – hubby bought me some Cashmere trousers to go with the waterfall jacket bought previously. So I’m sitting smug, head-to-toe in ridiculously soft Cashmere. And drinking Bailey’s.

I had already put one of my presents in the fridge as per Bekki’s instructions, so I opened her parcel first – a Yarny one from The Dartmoor Yarn Company.

Beautifully wrapped in snowflake paper and stripy cord, I had already had a quick look when I put the first gift in the fridge a week earlier.

This was the first to be opened and turned out to be fudge made by Bekki herself, which was a godsend as the fudge I had made turned out more like toffee. (I re-named it ‘Fudge Brittle’ and I think I got away with it!).

In true DYC style, Bekki had chosen a fab card and letter in with the parcel.

The very next present I unwrapped was my favourite of all – a hand dyed skein of yarn from a company local to me with which I am already familiar; Rosie’s Moments. A self-striping yarn in my favourite shade of fuchsia in what I think is a DK weight.

I have already cast on a pair of socks and it is knitting up beautifully!

One of Bekki’s famous Christmas puddings was next out of the box – isn’t it sweet?

Some wool tops in Christmassy red, green and white will turn into a felted creation or two, when I’ve got my creative head back on.

Bekki even included one of her handmade lavender scented candles – one of my favourite scents! That is going straight on my bedside table as it helps induce sleep. Not that I ever have a problem sleeping (I do love my bed; it’s currently 12.35pm!), but it will smell lovely just before lights out.

Yes Bekki, I did guess it was an egg cosy!

Three gorgeous handknit sacks each contained a tiny handmade gift.

Bell-shaped flowers crochet stitch markers…..

….knitting stitch markers, already in use on the socks……

…..and the dearest little pearl-drop angel.

Now I’d unwittingly given my input on the design of this hat, as Bekki had craftily canvassed for opinion on pom poms on her blog, which she dislikes and I love – so the pom poms won out!

Despite concerns about exploding pom poms, mine are perfectly intact, as you can see.

Even The Dogs had a gift each of identical bandanas. Fifi wears hers holly side out…..

…and Tess wears hers tree side out. They both posed obligingly for the photos:)

And here it is all together!

Thanks SO much Bekki – I love everything and you got me spot-on. The thought that has obviously gone into my parcel is immense and all those handmade extras are a joy which I will treasure.

Now to get back to those socks…….


Topsy-Turvy Doll

This has been gifted now, so I can share with you what I made for our granddaughter’s second birthday.

Do you remember having a Topsy-Turvy doll as a little girl? I do, and I also remember absolutely loving her, so I knew I was going to have to make one for our granddaughter.

I found a free tutorial at Keepsake Crafts and pretty much followed it to the letter. This is her version, a daytime/bedtime doll: –

Although you can be more creative and do many other things like a Red Riding Hood/Wolf doll, or a Beauty/Beast doll, I decided to stick to the traditional daytime/bedtime doll.

You start off by embroidering the faces and I simply coloured in the eyes and mouth with permanent marker pen.

I wish I’d backed the faces with interfacing now, as the black embroidery thread shows through in places, but hey-ho.

When the body is assembled and stuffed, at this stage it looks a bit like Frankenstein’s experiment!

I used coordinating fabrics for each dress, originally from Ikea, I think; floral for the day dress and spotted for the nightgown and cap.

I had plenty of lace in my stash to trim both dresses.

The hair was easy enough – just a ball of yarn wrapped around a book and sewn through all layers in the centre to keep it together.

The wig is then stitched on to the head, sewing over the previous line of stitching. Easy.

The daytime doll had her hair drawn back into a neat ponytail and tied with a bright red ribbon to go with her dress.

The bedtime doll had her hair in bunches held with some red heart ribbon.

A nice touch is to create fingers with three lines of stitching.


Here she is, all finished, in her daytime mode.

Doesn’t the hair look pretty from the back?

The sleepy side has a matching bonnet to go with her nightgown.

It’s a great tutorial which includes an easy to follow pattern, so why not give it a go for a little girl you know?


Stitching Santa Gift – Handmade Sewing Kit

So, before I even knew who I would be sending a parcel to for this year’s Stitching Santa, I made this not-so-little sewing kit. Well, what needlewoman couldn’t do with a new sewing kit?

Tilda's Sewing Kit handmade needlecase

Made entirely with fabric offcuts from my collection, the pattern comes from Tilda’s Toy Box, although you could easily copy mine just from the photos as it is pretty straightforward.

Tilda's Toy Box

Hopefully, you can recognise the shape of a house with its front door and a pot plant under the window.

A little robin perches on the sign above the door which, instead of the house name, says “Sewing Kit”.

The whole thing is quilted with a layer of wadding to add support.

Inside, there is a heart shaped pin cushion and two little pockets…..

…..a place to store hand sewing needles and embroidery scissors.

I’m adding my new labels to my handmade things now.

Including some “Handmade With Love” labels, buttons, pins and needles (all from my own supplies) will make the sewing kit more complete.

I haven’t included any scissors though, as I think I’m going to spend the whole budget on some fabric – a good pair of embroidery scissors could use it all up!

handmade sewing kit needlecase

handmade sewing kit needlecase

How are you getting on with your handmade gifts this year?


Tutorial: How To Make A Faux Sheepskin Bag / Tote


No, your eyes don’t deceive you, this IS yet another post featuring the lilac faux sheepskin fabric I bought last month. It really has been the fabric that keeps on giving as I have made not only a full length coat and two pairs of mittens, but also TWO tote bags!

If you would like to make your own, either from similar fabric or from a thick fleecy fabric, here’s a quick tutorial on how I did it.

Materials: Approx. 3/4yd of 45″ wide Faux Sheepskin or fleece

2 Magnetic Snaps

Cut pieces from your fabric following the diagram below (which is NOT to scale). If your fabric has a nap or a directional pattern, be sure to take this into account when cutting out.

You may have to adjust the size of the pocket to suit your particular ‘phone – this pocket is the perfect size for a normal (not ‘plus’) iPhone and you may well have to make it larger for a Samsung Galaxy or similar.

Sheepskin Tote Pattern

This photo shows the main pieces; front and back, gusset and interior mobile ‘phone pocket.


Seam allowances are 1/4″ throughout.

All raw edges are left unfinished and the seams are constructed with WRONG sides together, making a feature of them.

If you have your own labels, sew them to all pieces before any construction takes place. This avoids any fiddly sewing later on.


Sew your pocket to the inside of the BACK section of the bag around three sides only, leaving the top open.


Apply the magnetic tabs according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the photos as a guideline for placement.



Pin a tab to the top centre of the front and back sections.


Sew in place.


Pin the gusset to the back section with WRONG sides together. There will be surplus fabric to cut off later.


Stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance, being careful not to get any puckers as you sew around the corners.


Pin the front to the remaining long edge of the gusset and stitch as before.


Trim the corners off the front and back sections to give a rounded finish.


Onto the handles.

Fold in half lengthways with WRONG sides facing in.


Stitch close to the raw edges.


Pin handles about 3″ in from the sides of the bag, on the INSIDE.


BASTE loosely in place if necessary, although I just pinned them.


Take your 4 little squares – these will cover the ends of the handles to lend a neat finish on the inside of the bag.


You will need to remove as much of the pile on the reverse side of the fabric as possible. This will reduce the bulk and leave a flatter surface.


Pin each square over the raw edge of a handle and stitch in place, crossing your stitching to strengthen the base of the handles as shown below.



And that’s all there is to it!

This is the first one I made.



I even managed to make a second one using the rest of the scraps. There wasn’t enough to cut the main sections out in one piece, so I had to make a seam for the centre front and back, and I actually prefer this version.


I added my label in a slightly different position and it looks just as good.


The inside is nice and roomy with the all-important interior pocket to keep your ‘phone easily accessible.


The magnetic tabs give an element of security and stop the bag falling open.


As always, your own label adds a professional touch both inside and out.


The handles are short enough not to have the bag dragging on the floor (if you’re around the 5″ mark like me!), but also long enough for you to carry over your shoulder if that is your preference.


One of these is to be a Christmas gift for family and the other one may well end up in my Stitching Santa parcel, depending on who I get in the draw.

Which is your favourite?


Stitching Santa – How To Make Faux Sheepskin Mittens

Remember the faux sheepskin coat I made a couple of weeks ago?


Well, despite messing up the sleeves and having to re-cut them, I still had some largish scraps of fabric left and started looking for ways to use them up, preferably for Christmas presents or for something to add to my Stitching Santa parcel. The first and most obvious thing that came to mind was to make a pair of mittens.

Having trawled the internet for a pattern, I discovered that it would probably be just as easy to design my own based on a few that I’d seen, so I gave it a go and this is the result.


They turned out better than I imagined and only took a couple of hours, most of which was taken up hand-sewing the thumb in place.

Boosted by my success, I thought I’d do a quick tutorial as these would make a great handmade Christmas gift. They would be great in a fleecy fabric, too, as the raw edges can just be left as they are without fraying.

There are just two simple pattern pieces to this pair of mittens; click on the links below to download and print.

Printable Mitten Template

Mitten pattern

Printable Thumb Template

Thumb pattern

Cut out the pieces as below for each mitten, reversing the template for the second mitten.

You will notice that the TOP of the mitten has been cut out WITHOUT the curve. To do this, simply draw a straight line connecting points D+E on the MITTENS template.


Make sure that any stretch in the fabric goes ACROSS the hand width – you can see where I am pulling the fabric to find the stretch in the photo below.


You may also spot in the photo above that the first draft was one piece folded in half. I later adapted this to make two separate pieces so that there would be a seam all the way around.

Pin the top of the mitten (no curve) to the bottom (with curve) with WRONG sides together. You may find this easier with quilting clips if the fabric is thick like mine.


With 1/4″ seam allowance, sew from A to D and from B to E, leaving an opening for the thumb.



With WRONG sides together and 1/4″ seam allowance, fold the thumb in half and sew from C to D.


Pin the thumb in place.


Hand-sew the thumb to the body of the mitten with a BACKSTITCH, 1/4″ from the raw edges.



You can trim any excess fur from the seams if you like, to tidy them up, but that’s it – finished.

How simple?



They really are lovely and cosy and much more pliable than real sheepskin, so are much more comfortable to wear.

I managed to get a second pair of mittens out of the scraps, so I am going to put one pair in my Stitching Santa parcel and the other will be a Christmas gift for someone in the family.


Talking of Stitching Santa the deadline is 31st October – have YOU signed up yet?