I was so excited when my gifts finally arrived with my covert robin recipient, and she told she me that she liked them-phew!! When Melissa from a happy stitch (who was coordinating the co-host gift swapping), told me that I was going to be making for Rachael from Imagine Gnats, I thought: yay!
I am going to be sending her some organic zippers anyway, so now I don’t have to pay for international postage twice. Someone I already know, so this is going to be really easy! Erm… wrong! I think there is added pressure, when you already know the person you are gifting. There are no excuses of, well I all I had was your stupid pinterest board, where you only post pictures of kittens, with cute little sayings and a blog that you never update (note: none of these actually apply in this case). There is an expectation (if self imposed) that you will “get it right”. Here are the goodies that I sent in the parcel:
For Rachael, a hexy bag, handmade notebook and some Stitch Organics goodies (organic zippers and eco-buttons). For her girls, a bunny key ring and a cat key ring and for her husband, Nick, a chick key ring.
My original gift, was always going to be this notebook (excuse the strong language). Not that long ago, Rachael had sworn on her Facebook page update, and caused great confusion but also a follower had used the phrase “shit to make”. This had led to a discussion off page, about use of language and how much we all liked this phrase. Not long after I started making this notebook, Rachael and Jill, started a new collaborative project/blog called “go make shit“. The concept being, that we all get hung up on words and what they mean, whether it is strong language or adjectives, describing aesthetic, when really we should all just get on with the making!
So there I was, with profanities to embroider and wondering, what type of finished product to make and what else to add to the words. I came across this awesome tutorial for making a Combination Coptic Long-stitch Archival Book on CraftTuts+ and I thought… hmmm, that’s a bit different, I could totally make a notebook. As it turns out, I wasn’t spot on with that thought, but I will get to that in a moment! I wanted to make the book personalised, so I decided to alter Rachael’s Thread Girl to make a mini Rachael. I used this photo of her wearing her awesome colour blocked sleeveless washi dress.
and I made some adaptations to the original pattern and paper pieced (first time trying this technique) most of the dress.
I stitched on the dress and I machine sewed quite a bit of the embroidery, including the lines to mark out the multi coloured squares in the dress. I hand stitched the fills for the hair, squares and also the outline of the boots. The dress moved when I stitched it onto the main fabric, so I ended up re-drawing the head, which then meant that the vanishing marker, decided not to really vanish properly *sigh*. I also realised, after I made the pattern on the computer, that Rachael’s hair parting, was the opposite way round to the pattern, which is why it doesn’t look exactly the same as the pattern, in the finished item. I was originally going to echo the hexies on the front of the book, with a completely hexied back. I started having issues, machine stitching all the hexies together, so I abandoned that and just covered the back with the same organic linen as the front.
I actually really love the binding on the book, but I had several issues when putting it all together. I couldn’t get the edges of the pages in each signature to line up. Seriously, I have no idea how anyone does this?!? so the finished book pages aren’t all neat, like you would expect in a regular book. I also had some issues getting the stitches tight enough, and it pulled at the fabric a little (possibly, due to adding wadding, to make the covers padded). Lastly, the paper I used to cover the inside of the erm… covers didn’t smooth out as much as I would like, so again the finish wasn’t what I had hoped for.
Overall, I would say, don’t try a completely new technique, when you are on a deadline!! Especially, if you are using any variations on materials from the original tutorial. The original used book cloth and no padding to cover the books, it was just glued to the book board. You need time to experiment with adapting the technique to your materials. I love the concept of this book, but the execution was just not as precise as I would have liked! It turns out, I need not have worried so much, as she actually did like the book. However, in the grand tradition of eleventh hour panicking, I thought.. I have to make something else to send too!
So I went back to a “safe” pattern. The lickety split bag. You may recall, I recently made one for my sister in law. I found the pattern really easy to use, so I knew there wouldn’t be any problems struggling with construction and I could concentrate on customising it.
I used organic linen for the main material for the outside of the bag and then I created a hexie applique that is on the front and back of the right hand side of the bag. I attached the yellow and grey hexies together, then ironed the remaining edges, under, pinned maniacally and top stitched in place. I used organic fairtrade cotton fabric in yellow, as well as organic cotton fabric in field friends shroom (from Birch Fabrics). All fabrics I had also used for the notebook. The bag was lined with racoon acacia from Birch Fabrics’ Scamper collection.
I used organic cotton sewing thread in Ice for the contrast top stitching and an aqua eco-button. It is always good to have reliable, quick easy go-to gift ideas/patterns. This bag is definitely one of them!!
Last but not least, were these little keyrings for the girls and Nick. They are all made from Kunin Eco-Fi Felt, which is made from recycled plastic bottles. I used organic cotton thread to hand sew them together and then filling from a pillow that went lumpy in the washing machine, to stuff them. I chose to make a chick, because Nick had been pondering the idea of getting some chooks, and I figured, this way he would have one, but without all of the other issues that had come up in the discussion-ha ha! I made the bunny for B, as I remember this gorgeous pic from Rachael and Nick’s wedding where she was holding her stuffed bunny and I figured that it might be a safe bet, that she would like bunnies!! I was really wanting to make something leopard print related for K as she always seems to veer towards that sort of fabric, but I really was a bit stumped, so I opted for a cat. I figured she must be fairly into cats, they do have 5 of them! And a cat is a bit like a leopard… sort of…
Here is a close up of the chick and bunny keyring. Both of these ideas were pinned on my pinterest board. The chick was actually a tutorial and the bunny was just a picture of someone’s work, that I used as inspiration.
The cat’s were made using a free brooch pattern by Penguin and Fish for HowToSew.com. The ginger kitty you can see, I made as an extra for my mum.
My mum, liked her keyring, so much, that she asked me to make another one for her friend’s birthday!
So that is it for Covert Robin for another year! I hope you all had fun, making gifts and getting to know each other! Hope to see you again next year!!