29 September 2012

I'm on my way....

Today I head up North to the adventure that is University. 

I don't think I can really confine my thoughts and emotions to a simple blog post. Over the last few days I have been really thinking and praying into blogging over the next week. 

Blogging is a real comfort to me. I like to write, I like to think out loud and I love connecting with all of you. That said, blogging can bring a pressure to post and take photos. 

Therefore I have decided that just for the first week, just in freshers week I am going to be taking a blog break. I think it's important that I do this, that I invest my time into making new friendships, into finding a church and into making a life in Durham. If I blog during that first week it will be all too easy to slip away when things get tough and just stay in my room on my laptop. 

I am also aware that there will be bad days and I don't want my blog to just become my little sob story for the week! I hope you understand! 

I am planning on being back for Sian's Storytelling Sunday with plenty of tales to tell as well as popping by all your blogs to see what you are up to- I wouldn't want to miss all the fun! 

I will be checking my emails so if you want to contact me just click on my about page and my email is there. 

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support this last month as I make the transition into student life! I am so lucky to have such a supportive group of blog friends! 

27 September 2012

Around here- September edition

I think I say this every month but I honestly cannot believe how fast September has moved! It feels only yesterday we were still in summer and now the cold of Autumn really has set in.

From Top: Dad and I went on a church retreat to the most gorgeous house in the welsh valleys at the beginning of the month. Experimenting with strong light and shadow contrast in my photos. Making new pillow covers to take away with me- I really love how the stamping turned out on this one. Our housewarming party; a great photo op! Trying out my hand at taking pictures of the boys dog. A tutorial that never made it to the blog as it was a bit of a flop! September will stick in my mind as the month of the three day quilt. Taking some new self portraits to update the blog (have you noticed?) Playing around with sewing zips.

What a month! What has yours looked like?

For clarification, around here photos are images I collect together towards the end of the month. The stray images, the orphaned ones. Those left on the end of a memory card or taken for a blog post yet not quite made it on. They sum up my month better than any words can! 

25 September 2012

Tutorial- Zipped Purse

I love the look of oil cloth. It makes a project look very finished and professional and is fairly easy to use. 

A simple zipper purse seemed like a good thing to make and it was so cheap. Honestly, a couple of pounds! These purses are great for keeping your phone and keys in so they don't get lost in the depths of a handbag. ( Please don't tell me I am the only one who has this problem?) 

I got 1/4 of a metre of oilcloth but used only a scrap of that so you will have lots left to play with! 
One 8" zip
Sewing machine 

A few things to remember about oilcloth: 
- Sewing is a bit trickier because the material sort of sticks to the machine. A bit more force is needed to push it through and a longer stitch length of 3-4 helps

-DO NOT iron your oilcloth- it melts. Just folding it hard will do! 

1. Cut two pieces out of your oilcloth both 6" x 8. You don't have to cut your material to this size but this fit both the zip I had bought and seemed roomy enough for my phone and keys.

2. Grab your first piece of material and place it right sides together with the top edge of the zip. Pin in place if it helps but as the oilcloth is sort of sticky it will hold onto the zip pretty well. 

3. Sew a simple running stitch along this top edge, getting as close to the zip as you feel comfortable. I turn the piece over to do this so I can see where the zip is. Don't' be afraid to go over it several times if you are not happy with your first attempt as you can see I did in the photo below. 

4. Open the material out and press. Carefully top stitch along this fold. This is quite tricky so take it slow but it will create a lovely finish. 

5. Do exactly the same with your other piece of material and the other side of the zip. Right sides together, sew close to the zipper and then top stitch. When finished it should look like this: 

6. Undo your zip to about half way. Put the two pieces right sides together again and pin in place. 

7. Sew all three sides. The bottom and both sides right up to the zip. 

8. Undoing the zip to halfway means that you have a hole to turn the purse the right way round. Before you do this snip the bottom corners like this to make turning easier. 

9. Turn inside out and there you have it! A nice new purse to fill with make-up, keys, coins, you name it! 

Thanks for stopping by! 

This Post is part of my 20 for 20 project; twenty handwritten tutorials before I turn 21. 

24 September 2012

20 for 20

Oh hello 20! 
Today I say Goodbye to those teenage years!

I thought of listing twenty goals, twenty things I want to create, twenty hopes. Then decided that actually that really would be pretty boring and thinking of twenty would make my brain hurt. So...

I want to embark on a project: 

Twenty tutorials in my twentieth year. 

That is 20 handwritten tutorials to be put on the blog before I turn twenty one. Not, "oh I found this on pinterest and I did it like this." Twenty tutorials written by me. 

Watch. out. blog. 

I would love to give you all birthday cake but it wouldn't fit in my computer. So please take a free hand-painted graphic instead. ( I know. Cake or graphic we would all choose the cake, but needs must my friends!) 

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post about getting ready to head to uni. I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful blog friends who are sending me such positive messages! Thank you. 

22 September 2012

Behind the door

Behind the door in my bedroom is a pile of things...
Ring-binders and paper pads, highlighters and pots of coffee. 
There is a saucepan, a rolled up poster and a pencil case. 
There is a pretty jar full of laundry money, a jar full of pasta sauce and several packets of soup. 

Each day news things get put behind the door. Things that I suddenly think of, things that appear out of the Sainsburys shopping. It is like some strange nesting instinct.

On more than one occasion I have woken up in the middle of the night thinking of something that needs to be added to the pile. Post it's have been stuck on mirrors to help me remember! 

The boy described this as "preparing for uni the Abi way". 

You see the thing is... I am a week early! There is no room behind my door anymore and it is a week until I leave!

It has got to the silly stage now. Yesterday I looked down at the packet of clothes pegs in my hand and thought.."Yes, I may need pegs in my new uni room. I will put them in the pile." 

I have a plastic tub for craft supplies. ( I may be the first student in the world to take her sewing machine to uni- home comforts and all!) I had to limit myself to just one small tub for the craft things I want to take. But, and here is the big one, I couldn't fill it because well... I still have a week left! Therefore I have covered the top in post-its of everything that it will be filled with!

I know. You cannot say I am not organised. 

Durham University. You.are.welcome. 

21 September 2012

Rinda's Scavenger Hunt

Gosh, wasn't this year a great summer for a hunt? It has been amazing to see posts cropping up all over the internet from old friends and new on what they have taken photos of for Rinda's hunt.

I posted here about my experience of the scavenger hunt and how I persuaded/forced my whole family to get involved whilst we were on holiday in America! I said it then but it was such a fun thing to do together. We laughed about it, searched high and low and were so chuffed with ourselves when after a week we had managed to capture all the photos on the list!

Rinda, thank you so much for taking the time to organise the hunt! You have brought us a lot of happiness this summer.

It is so hard choosing my favourite photo for this post but I had to go with this one just because of the story behind it...

My mum  during our stay was lamenting the fact that no one around us in Virginia seemed to hang out their washing ( a sweeping generalisation but we'll go with it!) despite the fact that it was nearing one hundred degrees. Try as we might we couldn't find a washing line to photograph. Then one day we were traveling along and stopped at an intersection. "THERE!" my mum shouts. "What?!" we all asks, highly worried. "A washing line!" she cries. And there, lo and behold in the back garden looking out onto the road was a clothesline. My mum whipped out her camera and had taken the shot before the lights had gone green!

Can I cheat and have two favourites? The picture below is my favourite in terms of composition and general photo-ness! 

Again, thank you so much Rinda. Whose up for 2013?

19 September 2012

The adventures of quilting to a deadline

I decided to make a quilt.

I also decided to set myself a deadline. 

Why? You ask. Why make it more stressful for yourself? The answer is pretty simple. Quilts can be fiddly and time consuming. I started one over a month ago and picked it up and put it down so many times that I grew out of love with it. I knew that to stay motivated I had to give myself a time restraint...

Three days. Three days from beginning to end. A quilt from scratch. It is so possible, it would just take some serious motivation. 

The motivation came in the form of putting my intention out on instagram. I made my deadline public. Therefore I knew I couldn't fail. I couldn't say "Oh hey sorry guys, I couldn't be bothered to finish it!" I HAD to. ( Disclaimer: I enjoy working to a deadline. A time limit pushes me. I know for others it is a course of stress and worry. This is just how I work!)

You know what? It was so much fun. I got up early and worked on it. I thought about how I was going to quilt it. I took an idea and ran with it. I didn't have the time to try and make it perfect or worry about exactly how it should look. In a very strange way it was quite freeing. 

I documented the whole process through my instagram photos. It was exciting to see the quilt visually progress from scraps of fabric to one big piece. 

The quilt has a lot of meaning for me. The boy and I picked out the fabric together. It will be my last big project before I head off to uni and it is a little bit of comfort and home to put in my new room. 

The details: ( for those of you interested in the how

I kept the design of the quilt top simple. I bought five fabrics in 30cm pieces. I then cut each one into strips which were 6" wide. 

Really simply I grabbed each of these strips and chopped them up into all different sized pieces. I then muddled the pieces up and put them back together in long rows and sewed them together. 

I have always struggled with making the quilt sandwich so this time decided to try something new. I quilted the quilt top to the batting by stitching "in the ditch" of each row. I then put the quilt top right sides together with the backing fabric and sewed all the way round the edge leaving an opening to turn the quilt inside out. 

The edges turned out really neat and there was no need for binding. I just pressed and then top stitched them. I then hand sewed the opening of the quilt closed after I had added my initials. 

I was going to go over the whole thing and quilt the front more securely to the back but I felt it didn't need it. 

Such a fun project and really easy! 

Can you make a quilt from scratch in three days? Why yes, yes you can!

Thank you for stopping by and thank you to everyone who followed the quilts progress on instagram! 

18 September 2012

Life Right Now- according to Instagram

This is life right now according to my instagram (and the boys)

Top row left to right: The knitting needles coming out again, our trip to the twenty20 cricket final in Cardiff for the middle brothers 18th.

Middle row: Spotting a golden postbox. Going on a lunch date with the boy. Gotta love this man.

Bottom row: Hunting out interesting shapes and patterns. Loving the sunsets and the evening light as Autumn draws in. Trying out some new experiments in decorating pencils. Mixed results but they do look pretty!

Top Row: I am resorting to leaving notes on my camera after too many times taking it somewhere without a memory card in it! Experimenting with fabric and paint. Celebrating Dads birthday.

Middle row: A new quilt in the works (more on this later). Finding my lomo camera and a mysterious film inside.

Bottom Row: Road trip with Dad to a church retreat. Taking photos of the boy. weak.at.the.knees.

So much packed into a month as usual but some great memories here.

I am still loving instagram and still loving capturing those every day moments that I would otherwise have missed.

As usual if you want to follow me my username is abibeach

Thanks for stopping by

16 September 2012

Keeping it real

The other day I had one of the sweetest conversations with a girl I knew at school. She quietly came up to me and told me that she regularly reads my blog and that she loves my work. Wow! I mean...wow! If you are reading this, thank you so much for telling me. I smiled all day!

It got me thinking though about keeping it real. That my blog can be one show of what I create but there is the other side. The really messy side...

And both of these are good. I mean you can't get the gold without the muck but still. I don't want to forget this hidden side. I don't want to create such a polished blog that I forget the failures.

So here I am. Bearing all ( in the strictest craft sense!). I am messy. I am an experimenter. I have huge failures and projects that are started and not finished.

But most of all, in everything that works well and is put on here and everything that goes wrong and is hidden under the bed, I want to praise him who gave me my creativity.

Keeping it real friends.

15 September 2012

Tutorial- Watercolour Map


So, the last of my student makes. I have had so much fun putting this mini series together. Thank you to everyone who commented and pinned and read.
This last make is super easy and very effective- my brother commented on it! Now that is a compliment friends!

2 sheets of white card
Glue (any will do)
craft knife

Approx cost:
I think I had everything on hand. Definitely not going to cost you a lot!
£10 for the frame but this is purely optional!

*The first few pictures are awful. I am sorry! The paint was a stronger colour in real life!*

1. Grab your first sheet of white card. I used a 12 x 12 piece just so I had more space to work on. Choose two colours that blend together. Eg blue and green or red and pink. You get the idea!

2. You are going to create an ombre effect so starting with the darker colour sweep it across the top of the page. Add more and more water as you move down so it turns lighter and then blend in your next colour using the same technique.

3. Leave your paper to dry. I am so impatient at this stage!

4. Whilst your paper is drying print out the outline of the UK or state or country depending on where you are! Just print it black and white on your second piece of card. A4 sized this time.

5. Using Scissors and a craft knife carefully cut away inside the shape of the country so you are just left with a stencil. This part does take some patience and some time so go slowly, making sure you get the details.

6. When you are happy with your stencil lay it over the top of your watercolour page. This is why I use a bigger piece of card for the watercolours-it gives you more options at this stage. Move your stencil around on the page till you are happy with the positioning of the colours on the map.

7. Glue your stencil securely to the watercolour page and trim the back page to A4.

8. Cut out a small dot or heart and stick it to your favourite place on the map. I then sewed around the edge of the stencil for effect but this is entirely optional.

9. Pop in a frame!

Easy peasy!

Thanks for stopping by