Posted in crafting

Have you been to the Museum lately? We have…

I know that I have been in the land of the missing but I haven’t been idle.

In the midst of doing all my ‘making’ … you know, sewing and painting and crafting,

I’ve joined a new design team and I will let you know more about that in another post.

I’ve been learning some new skills because life is too short to sit doing nothing and when you are as nosey I mean as inquisitive as me it’s good to keep mixing those little grey cells!

And we have managed to fit in some craft fairs too.

Over the summer months we have been fortunate to be able to take our crafts to two fairs both of which were hosted in Museums. It’s been lovely to get out and about and see how it ‘used to be’ and to get to share our ‘Crafty makes’ with the lovely public who have been enjoying their days out and about.

In early July we were at the Ulster Museum in Cultra to ‘Mingle the Moilies’ celebrating this rare breed of heritage cattle. The weather was amazing and it was a real carnival atmosphere. Alongside the cattle, there was a craft fair where all crafts had to link back to our heritage, so everything was handmade or hand crafted, all crafters were in a huge marquee and The Crafty Pixy was located between a master saddler and a man throwing clay pots … how bizarre. It was a great day, there was even a wedding going on with the whole wedding party out and about and the bride in a horse drawn carriage just alongside us, the bridesmaids couldn’t resist and they came tottering around the marquee in all their finery. You just couldn’t guess what was going to come along next. We had tourists from Texas and China and local folks out for family picnics or a pleasant walk around the exhibits and a wee visit to our craft fair was thrown in for good measure. Definitely an eclectic mix, it was a real fun day.

Wonderful opportunity to meet this lovely native breed

Irish Moiled Cattle Society

Mingle with the Moilies this Saturday 8th July at The Ulster Museum, Cultra, from 10am to 5pm…….full day of activities!

We look forward to welcoming the Ards & North Down Mayor and in addition to our cattle classes, judged by Albert Baxter, Trevor Chadwick & Philip Mellor, traditionally/best dressed classes, cattle clipping demo by Eamon McGarry Cattle Services, young handlers with Maggie McQuiston, cookery demo by Aoife Clayton, kids activities with Alison Boyle, jiving competition judged by YFCU President James Speers, the Ballyvesey bovine from Laurelview Farm, stock judging and ‘Guess the Weight Competition’, we will also have the following traditional crafters in the marquee – BowCrafty, The Journeyman Saddler, The Messy Craftroom, From Granny’s Pantry, Blue House Gifts, Tandem Photography NI, Stitched Stuff, Bluebell Handmade Jewellery, Libby’s Crochet Patch, The Crafty Pixy, Bayview Ceramics and Bobble Crafts. The Farm Families Health Check Mobile will be on site and farm safely packs are available. Don’t forget to enter the competitions, milk the moilie and enjoy learning more about our unique breed.

The event would not be possible without our sponsors on board. Many thanks to our numerous supporters including;

Massey’s Butchers, Saintfield, Corrie’s Butchers, Holywood, Angus Butchers, Greyabbey, Pheasants Hill Farm Shop, Downpatrick, The Curious Farmer, Holywood, Robert Berry, Farm Manager at the UTFM, The Ark Open Farm, Newtownards, Johanna Montgomery Kitchen Designs, Martinstown, The White Bicycle, Holywood, Ulster Farmers Union, South Antrim Office, Lough Bishop B&B House, Mullingar, Manor House Farm B & B, Uttoxeter, Fane Valley Agricultural Merchant HQ, Sam McConnell Agricultural Merchant, Lisburn, Drumnakilly Supplies, Omagh, Castlewellan Show, Antrim Agricultural Show, Tullamore Show, Bannow & Rathangan Show, Plantation Press, Lisburn, Anonymous Sponsor, Ulster Weavers, Holywood plus those donating prizes for the evening raffle. If you have any enquiry relating to the open day please get in touch! See you there!

And, if you are going to visit one Museum… why not two?

If you are local to Northern Ireland you will probably have heard of Bangor, that’s Bangor County Down. In Bangor there is a Museum, the ‘North Down Museum’. I only found out about it last December when we took a table at a craft fair there. It’s a great little museum, lots of nooks and crannies and things that are peculiar to Bangor. For instance there is a little cinema inside the museum and it’s fitted out with some of the seats and cinematic things from the Tonic Cinema, which was open from 1936 until 1983 and I think anyone who knows Bangor, knew The Tonic, the museum even has some old films running in their mini Tonic Cinema and you can take a seat and watch the show.

You can find lots to do in the Museum there is a super wee coffee shop/restaurant called Coffee Cure, where they make absolutely fabulous traybakes & shortbread – you can read the paper or a book from their own library or just sit, relax and enjoy the experience.

Around another corner you can find this little house, it’s a replica of what they believe the Monks from Bangor Abbey would have lived in. It’s ‘The Monks Cell’ if you look to the right of the photo there is a glass walkway and during the Summer Market you would have found us there…

So that’s my cultural chatter finished and now on to my normal Crafty patter.

This is our stall (before the Market opened), and the whole surroundings lend themselves to displaying my crafted goods, even the giant green grasshopper lends a hand and he is a huge talking point especially with the little ones! Those fabulous stone balustrades are perfect for displaying quilts pillows and handmade bags… well you have to make the best of whatever you are given!

What a fabulous place to be, so many gorgeous historic things and we had a whole weekend to wander the halls and take in the displays and chat to the many who visited.

The variety of stalls was excellent from jewellery to turned wood bowls to quilts, bags and even reclaimed goods where there was a stall displaying and selling wonderful things like horseshoes made into wine racks. It was a brilliant weekend. From that chats we had with people visiting the Fair, they were delighted with the range of items for sale and with the quality and variety of the products.

We are very grateful to the lovely people who stopped by and bought items or had a chat it makes the whole event so much more personal and memorable, so thanks folks, I hope that everyone who purchased enjoys their products. I am very interested in aromatherapy and the use of essential oils and make lavender bags for hanging in rooms and wardrobes, sachets and ravioli for drawers and heated pillows and wraps for comfort. I also enjoy the garden and grow lots of lavender in many varieties which we harvest and dry for using in our products. We have had some very fine weather this year and it’s resulted in a great crop of lavender so there have been many great conversations about garden lavender; how we grow ours, how we cut and dry it and use it in a range of products including scented ravioli. More than a few garden tips have been exchanged and secreted for use later on, thanks to those who shared 😍

We had a wonderful summer Market/Fair and are now preparing for the Christmas Market which will be held late November early December I think, (I’ll keep you posted on that) so fingers crossed that Donna and her team let us back!

The museum staff are really friendly and helpful so if you fancy a cup of coffee or tea and a wee bit of culture why not pop in….

http://www.northdownmuseum.com

I did say we had a really busy time recently, final snippet of news.

Our family has had a new addition…. we have a beautiful new granddaughter Isla Rachel and she arrived on 4th August; her Mums birthday. The very best present that Sara could have ever hoped for. I guess we will be finding a new way to celebrate those two birthdays for the future. We are very fortunate and have 5 grandchildren that we love, 3 boys and 2 girls. Somehow I’m not convinced that’s the final count…

See you next time Marie x

Ps I’m working towards getting an online shop up and running. If you have any ideas or suggestions or ‘wants’, please don’t be shy, drop me an email or text, I’d be very grateful xxx

Posted in crafting, Folk Art, multi media, paper crafting, Quilting & Patchwork, sewing

A Bit of a Maze – Rail Fence Quilt

There’s nothing nicer than sitting in a comfy chair with a fancy quilt on you lap or across your knees or sitting in the garden with a cool drink on your own little piece of softness.

Try this it can be made using scraps or a loved fat quarter bundle or whatever takes your fancy, so browse your craft room, laundry cupboard local fabric shop or the internet and make your choices.

For this quilt you will need:-

  • 6 Fat Quarters (or equivalent fabric) – The Cotton Craft Co, Pamela, Fat Quarters
  • Wadding 36”x36” Heat N Bond Iron on Fleece
  • Backing fabric 1 metre square Seeded Fabric / Calico
  • Fabric for binding; (about a half meter) – Crafters Companion Squares Fabric
  • Matching threads for quilting and sewing
  • Air erasable pen / quilting pencil
  • Use 1/4” seams throughout

Are you ready? …   …   …

1.  Cut the fat quarters into 1.5” strips using a rotary cutter and a mat.   Quilting is good for the brain so sharpen those little grey cells to calculate how much you will need.  (For this quilt I was using 5.5” squares finishing at 5”.

2.  After sewing 5 strips together, press the seams in the one direction (but keep them all in the same direction). The strips should be sub cut at 5.5”, this is your 5.5”block, which when sewn with a 1/4″ seam gives a 5″ square block.  Simple….

3.  The blocks are then laid out into a pattern, or alternatively you can sew them together randomly. All squares must be sewn together, using a ¼” seam throughout. Be careful with accuracy as otherwise it will change the size of the quilt.  Depending on the number of blocks used, the size of the quilt can change. (I used 36 blocks). I turned my blocks by 90 degrees to produce a pattern and this resulted in a completed quilt top.  I have to be honest, I was not watching the colour scheme too closely, so it is a little odd.

4. Press the top, make sure all seams lie flat. Measure your wadding so it is a few inches larger than your top on all sides.  This allows for the natural shrinkage that occurs when you quilt and provides for trimming and squaring at the end.   Place your square of wadding on a flat surface and lay the quilt top, face up on top of the wadding. Depending on how you intend to baste these layers together, spray glue, pin or tack together join these 2 layers.

basting 2

5.  At this stage you can commence some foundation quilting, this will ensure that the layers stay true and flat.  Stitch in the ditch along each of the full length seams and capture the layers, if you sew carefully you shouldn’t even see these rows of stitching.  if you have one you may wish to use your Walking Foot and this will stop the layers of fabrics from moving or creeping.

6.  If you wish, you can do Free Motion Quilting at this stage, with 2 layers in place or you can add the backing layer and quilt through all 3 layers producing stitched patters on both the top and the bottom.

Free motion quilting can take a bit of practice and if you have some spare fabric, make a few small quilt sandwiches (2 or 3 layers of fabric) and test your free motion skills before you launch into stitching your lovely lap quilt.

To start free motion quilting, the feed dogs need to be released and dropped and the utility foot changed to the darning foot. Free motion can produce a pleasant pattern, like leaves, hearts or feathers, or a series of random stitches over the entire quilt top, it is like drawing with your needle and thread.

7.  If you haven’t already done so, you now need to add the backing, lay the quilt top, with the wadding attached, right side down (RSD) on a flat surface and lay the backing fabric right side up (RSU). Again it’s up to you how to baste these layers together. I prefer to spray baste the whole quilt then flick it over and check that everything is flat and that there are no wrinkles in either the top or the bottom.

8.  Regardless of how carefully you sew the three layers together, you will have some unevenness and this needs to be trimmed to square it up before the binding is fixed. Lay your quilt out and trim the outer edges of all four sides, make sure you keep the outer   blocks the same size and otherwise it will be noticeable.

final trimming pre binding9.  To bind your quilt, prepare the binding fabric by pressing and straightening the edges. Cut a sufficient length of 2.5” strips to go right around the four sides of quilt, taking account of corners and an overlap to finish it off.  See photos on how the lengths of fabric should be joined, they are joined on the diagonal giving an almost invisible seam.

Press the ‘joins’ open and then fold in half, wrong sides facing and press well along the fold. Pin or clip the binding to the top side of the quilt at the outer edge. Place the quilt under your presser foot and keeping the quilt as flat as possible, sew a quarter inch seam around the edges. At the end of each length, stop a quarter inch back and sew of at a 45 degree angle.

mitred front

10.  Re-commence sewing, beginning with sewing at 45 degree, then sew straight until the next corner and until all sides are complete. Remove from machine, flip the quilt binding over and clip or pin it to the back. You will notice that the beautiful mitred corners that you achieved on the front, come together beautifully at the back of the quilt. The binding can then be finished by hand sewing the whole way around, or you can machine stitch, if you are doing this, I recommend that you stitch it from the front to ensure its neat but ensure you check that the back of the binding is caught and that there are no wrinkles or twists.   Press the binding lightly and enjoy.

diagonal black background

Posted in Uncategorized

A view on life…. – Crafty Pixy style of course

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I live in a little town in County Down called Comber, its close to Castle Espie, Ireland’s largest collection of native and exotic waterbirds, bats and migrant birds it has stunning views from the shore of Strangford Lough. It’s ringed by hills and mountains in the distance. Comber is probably most famous for potatoes, Comber early potatoes have been granted protected geographical indication(PGI) status under European law. The potatoes are prized for their distinctive flavour, its earthy and nutty and has soft smooth skin. New season Comber potatoes join an elite group products, including Parma ham, Champagne wine and Stilton cheese. They are gorgeous!!!!  They grow in the fields around me and I drive past these fields daily, or the tractors carrying these little beauties drive past me! (or hold me back on the local roads)

From my little craft room I have the most spectacular views towards the Castlereagh Hills with the Mourne’s to the left and Belfast and the Black Mountain to the right.  If I had eyes in the back of my head I would see Scrabo Tower too.

With all this to look at its a miracle that I ever get anything made so please be kind and indulge me when I share these views or get excited about sunsets and sunrises and all things imaginable.

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2017 is shaping up nicely, I’m just finishing my March design team projects for Crafters Companion, 3 projects posted on Friday and the last one is at hand stitching and embellishments so well on target,  oh I forgot, I have another tutorial to write as well!   I am one of life’s procrastinators and this has certainly made for interesting stories in my head.  It’s me and a calendar no backchat allowed.  I’ve no one to blame but me but sure I can put up a good argument anyway.  I’ve lost and won the same battle on the same day and never gone beyond the garden.  

Change of tack planned as I move forward this year….I’m tacking all things Baby,  having made quilts, big,big, quilts, with the challenge of needing a space as big as a ball room to spread out quilt tops for layering, tacking and quilting,  it will be such a pleasant change to be able to craft on a table top instead of taking over several rooms!  I think it will be liberating!  I am also committing to making at least one bag or quilt or picture a week, well at least one a month in the hope I reduce my stress levels  trying to ensure I have sufficient stock for Craft Fairs.  Well that’s the plan.

Now, I don’t know how storage works at your house but it is always a bone of contention,  (am I kidding myself that I am going to make that much!) at my house, storage is always a big problem…….. one that will occupy my little grey cells for more than a second or two.    I have to bargain for every nook and cranny of crafting space but I have to hold my hands up,  I hoard,  and I can’t go past a bargain so I am my own worst enemy.  I have far too fabric, notions, wadding and general craft making products I could start a shop! But I’m very happy cause I’m a crafting butterfly flitting between projects. (Actually I’m terrified of butterflies why did I ever use that analogy?  Its Lepidoptera (screams very loudly)!

 Here’s a sneaky peek of one of March’s projects  … big reveal when I’m allowed.    I don’t think you will guess what it is 

I’ve started playing with paint and inks and stencil and multi media and I’m having such a good time, hours are flying round and I’m so genuinely engrossed, trying this and that, and testing for colourfastness and wash and ironing.  Whole new world…..whatever have I started.  I will be hoarding the washing up liquid bottles and the toilet roll tubes…

🤔 ever….. 

Posted in crafting, Folk Art, sewing, sewing, Uncategorized

I’m The Crafty Pixy, And I’m here to help you?

That’s me, I’m here to help you make your Christmas special…

It’s the crazy season, you know the time of the year when no one knows what they are doing, but they do it twice as fast as usual. And everyone gets that aggressive tone in their voice and look in their eye, and,  all anyone really wants to do is sit down with a nice fresh cuppa, stretch out their toes, take a deep and contented sigh and be left alone for a few moments (or hours)……
It’s been like that at TheCraftyPixy HQ; messages, emails, texts, calls; can you, have you, will you, why don’t you, but you must have, seriously.

Quilt’s and cushions and calendars  have been in and out of packaging, measured, remeasured, repacked, pressed, put away, taken out again.  Bags have been walked up and down, posed with in mirrors and windows, opened, closed, packed, refilled, swung over shoulders and wrists, stuffed into other bags and shook out again!

I make things that you don’t find in shops, they don’t come of a production line, each one is individual, some may look the same, or similar, but every single one is hand crafted, hand finished and had at least one last ‘once over’ before it goes from me to you.   It’s been Exhausting!   Fascinating and I wouldn’t have missed or changed a moment!

oOo

Still, that’s what we do, we try to help, to accommodate, so if there is anything that takes your fancy, that fills your boots or that you just can’t live without and it’s here at TCP, I promise to do my best to make it ‘your hearts desire’ at this festive, holiday season, or at anytime.  Gifts aren’t only for Christmas, they are for Birthdays, Weddings, Engagements, for driving tests, exams, for commiserations and cancellations, sometimes they are ‘just because’ and that can be the best gift of all.
Just ask, price, colour, wrapping, posting, delivery whatever.
You see, I love sewing, creating, making things and funding my hobby is for me, like my cycle of life, something has to go out the door before something new can come in; figuratively speaking of course, but you get the drift.  So the more I make people’ happy’, the ‘happier’  I can be.
Let’s spread a little happiness and joy around……. please…

oOo

Have a wonderful Christmas, time is not elastic, you can’t stretch it, come December 25th, that’s end game for most of the shopping until 2017.  But….. it never is….
Scary, isn’t it.

On Boxing Day, December 26th, I have no intention of hitting the sales, I have kids who work in retail so it’s a matter of principle, I would love for them to have another day with their family to enjoy the season so for me, for us… I foresee time to recharge batteries, to plan and scheme and dream for 2017.

There are several quilt blocks that are teasing me and piquing my interest. Loads of new techniques that I have to play with and conquer and my stash needs busted!  I am a fabricaholic. I need to get it under control.

I’m thinking of sewing cards to compliment the gifts that I make.  I also want to stray into new product lines and tempt different markets, I really enjoy working with smaller blocks, smaller quilts, so babies and small children may be an area that I explore.    I know my imagination will be getting a well planned  work out so watch this space for new projects, new themes and new roads to travel.

Some of my recent close encounters; some of this years quilting masterpieces are destined to be heirlooms, other works will start new family traditions and the rest are hopefully being enjoyed doing exactly what they were designed to do!

And these are very new, only sneaky peeks, you probably haven’t a clue what they are… because I don’t wish to spoil anyone’s surprise…..  Right new they are under a Christmas trees 🌲 Somewhere, wrapped 🎁 for the big day on  25th  –  after that I will reveal whatever you need to know  😘

For me TCP, this year has been amazing, I hope it’s had its highs for you too.  Next year is planned, well bits of it are.  I’m moving into new areas of craft and developing further those that I love.

I hope you will join me and help me along, i’d love to hear your suggestions and your criticisms, you rarely can have one without the other.

Whatever your tipple, Cheers, Here’s to 2017, x 💋

Posted in crafting, sewing, sewing, Uncategorized

Christmas is coming and …..

Dobby my ‘Elf on the Shelf’ has returned home after spending the “weekend at the Museum” otherwise known as….. Bangor Heritage Centre.
He is in great form and watching everything!   No sneaking any naughty treats for me. Think his weekend at the museum has given him a whole new lease of life – he even has a big smile on his face.

He is available for sale or on loan. No reasonable offers refused!!! I have no little ones that  Santa  needs a running commentary on, we have grandchildren, they have elves at home…….

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We had a fabulous time at Bangor Christmas Market, starting on Friday evening we  set up and had a quick look at what our fellow crafters brought for sale, over 20 stalls were opened all around the museum, throughout the exhibits and walkways, inside, outside, upstairs and downstairs.

Once the doors opened on Saturday, it was all go!  Crafters really are a lovely bunch, friendly and willing to help each other.  We looked after each others stalls, brought coffee, picked up fallen stock and commented on all the lush handmade items and crafty products available for our wonderful customers.   There was so much choice, hand made wooden turned goods, handmade chainmail  jewellery, chutneys and jams, keyring, knitted hats, aprons, blankets, dolls, bags, christmas decorations, Santa’s, Snowmen, pincushions, and a partridge in a pear tree!  Honestly the choices were wide and varied and the standard of the products very high.  we also had henna tattoo artists and wildlife volunteers showing children how to look after hedgehogs and plant trees.  it was such a diverse group of like minded people it was a privilege to spend time with them.

I enjoyed the preparation, making all those items, quilts and bags, angels and fairies, scottie dog cushions, lavender bags, bracelets and keyrings and then some!

 

So if you have a spare moment, try and visit a craft fair.  And if you can, buy something you fancy from a crafter.  All the thought, love and care that crafters put into their handmade products rubs off onto the buyers and everyone shares the warm fuzzy feeling…. honestly!

 

 

 

Posted in crafting, sewing, Uncategorized

‘That’ season is fast approaching & craft fairs are aplenty

Christmas is looming and there are plenty of craft fairs being advertised and Facebook Pinterest and Etsy are going crazy with all things christmas.

So not wanting to  sit on the fence, I’ve been topping up my own  supplies for the craft fairs that I am going to be selling at.

Thinking back to last year, it was definite that folks are keen to look at want we as crafters make, they love to comment on the colours, the quality of the crafting and the price. Craft Fairs are often mistaken for jumble sales and folks want to buy hand crafted items for pennies, to buy one and get one free, and ask ‘will you take XX for it’  and HOW MUCH?

I read a post on Facebook recently and it went something like this; lady was at a craft fair and was interested in a particular item.  she talked to the crafter and said ‘I will offer you £10 pounds, that takes account of the fabric, the wadding, the thread, the buttons; I think that’s a fair price.  The crafter thought for a moment and said, for that, Yes it is a fair price.  So having chosen her fabric and given her exact specifications, the lady agreed to buy and left her address and paid the £10.    About 2 weeks later the parcel arrived and the lady opened it eagerly.  She was appalled to find fabric, buttons, wadding and thread.  There  also was a card that said; ‘Hope you enjoy; all the items you wanted are included, what is missing is the time and care and expertise the I put into every thing that I make, you hadn’t included it when you decided what was a fair price and I have not included it in the finished product.  Hope you enjoy, best wishes, x’

As the first craft fair draws nearer, its time to take my ‘don’t be so sensitive pills’ and forget all the work, the thought, the time and the creativity  that goes into making every one of my own hand crafted products and I will enjoy the craic and the new friends that come  with every fair.

Hopefully I can empty the boxes of goodies that I have made during the past 12 months, well at least some of them……..

Here are a few pics of current works, ongoing, in progress and ready for sale….