Win a custom made russian doll case for your phone

Hi everyone! I took some time off blogging as the recent months have been quite hectic for me. I spent most of december in France, to attend my sister’s funeral and to spend some time with my family. I didn’t close my shops while I was away, so then spend most of january catching up on december’s orders. Thank you so much to those of you who have been very patient with your orders.

Today, I have 3 custom made russian doll cases to give away, one per winner. You can use it as a phone case or a purse or a business cards holder/case. I made the one in the picture to fit a Samsung phone. The one you will win, will be custom made for your phone, so you need to let me know the name/model of your phone. If you don’t like the russian doll fabric, you can ask me to make it in a different/surprise fabric.

handmadewithjoy phone caseTo win one of those cases, please visit my etsy shop and let me know (in a comment here) what you think I should make and sell that is not already in my shop. Don’t forget to put in the comment the name/model of your phone in case you win, and wether you want your case made with the russian doll fabric in the picture or a different/surprise fabric. The giveaway is open to anyone worldwide, the 1st person to leave a comment will automatically win, and I will draw 2 winners among all the other participants on March 11th (the giveaway is open till March 10th 2015 12pm GMT time).

If you’d rather buy one for you or for someone else as a gift, you can find it in my shop here: www.etsy.com/listing/224412544/russian-doll-case-custom-made-for-your

Good luck!

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Sewing a russian doll fabric minky baby blanket

I’ve just finished sewing a baby blanket for a customer using a minky fabric for the back and I thought I would share tips on how to sew this fabric. For this blanket, I used a japanese Kokka fabric with russian doll for the front, and a cream raised dot minky fleece fabric for the back.

First, minky is a lovely fabric to touch, it is so soft and velvety, and feels lovely on the skin. You can find plain minky and raised dot minky. It is a popular choice of fabric for customers who wants a baby blanket so I offer a selection of it. But for us seamstresses, it is a tricky fabric to sew. These are the tips that work for me each time I have to use this fabric:

russian doll blanket 11. Minky is polyester so it will not shrink, therefore it is not necessary to pre-wash it before sewing it. If you use another natural fabric with it (cotton, linen, etc) then you must pre-wash that fabric as natural fabrics tend to shrink the 1st time you wash it.

2. Minky is a very slippery fabric so you must pin and pin your fabric layers (minky plus the other fabric you use), I pin everywhere like I am making a quilt.

3. To get a straight sewing line, I use a soft sellotape as a marking line on the back of the cotton fabric and sew along that line. Make sure you use a tape that easily comes off, I once used a super strenght doubled side tape and it was a nightmare to take the sticky bits off the fabric.

russian doll baby blanket4. I also pin on both side of the stitching line to make sure that the fabrics do not shift while I do the sewing.

5. Use a quilting needle and a walking foot on your machine. I also increase my stitch lenght, so use a 3.5 stich lenght instead of the standard 2.5.

6. One last tip: if you use a raised dot minky as a backing, then iron your cotton fabric really well before you start stitching as once your item is finished, it is not a good idea to iron your blanket (if you do then the raised dot will flatten out).

kokka russian doll fabric baby blanketYou can buy this blanket as a custom made item in my shop.

Ipad cover giveaway

Sorry I haven’t blogged for ages, and thanks to those who keep reading this blog despite the long absence.

As promised, I am giving away 1 ipad cover this month, this is the one I made for the Handmade Gifts book. To win it, all you have to do is check out my etsy shop and tell me – by leaving a comment here – what is your favourite item in the shop. The giveaway is open till August 4th midnight (GMT time). It is open to anyone anywhere in the world. You can enter even if you have won previously. I will select 1 winner randomly.

ipad cover handmadewithjoymy ipad cover in Handmade Gifts bookThe giveaway is for the ipad cover only, the iphone cover on the picture or the book are not included.

Here are some pictures of the garden (taken mid july):

2 grape vines, each in a 55 cm pot, underplanted with spring anemones bulbs, strawberries and purple violas. There are 6 bunches of grapes this year.

2 grape vinesThis is a peach tree, that was supposed to be a nectarine tree from Thompson&Morgan that costs £34 (they completely ignored my complaint so I do not recommend them for fruit trees). It has 3 fruits on it but they are not ready yet. It is in a 66cm pot and I underplanted it with borlotti beans and dwarf french yellow beans.

container peach treeSome squashes climbing up an arch (potimarrom and gem rollet varieties). Because I have a small garden, I only grow small fruit squashes and pumpkins that can be grown up some arches. This year, I grow each one in 35cm bottomless pot (in the front garden raised beds). 3 pots to each side of an arch.

potimarron and gem rollet squashesThis is an eucalyptus gree that I bought very small in a 9cm pot, I grow it in a 35cm pot so as to keep it small as I do not want a big tree. It is now in its 3rd year and is looking lovely.

STA60037Some desiree potatoes, growing in pink flexitubs (£3 from tesco). I only grow potatoes in these pots now. The other potatoes that I am growing these year are the setanta variety.

setanta potatoes in pink potsA lebanese courgette, growing in a 55cm pot along with 3 tomatoes. If you look carefully, there is a huge courgette there that I forgot to harvest on time so it grew very big.

lebanese courgetteThis is the peach tree in the back garden. Despite being treated with a bordeaux mixture, it still got some curled leaves (which I forgot to take off on time so they profilerated). But I got 20 fruits from it this year, and they were big and tasted lovely.

peach tree in backgardenThis was the 1st peach of the year.

huge peach from my gardenI recently bought some peaches from Aldi and they tasted somewhat like a mango so I saved a stone and will try to grow it. I will have to do some research as I am not sure if I should grow it as a tree or grow it and then get a cutting from it to graft on my existing peach tree. Have you grown any fruit tree from a stone or done some grafting? Do you have any advice for me?

Sewing wise, I have finished a batch of these ipad covers, they have a pocket which is big enough for an A5 size notebook and some pens. You can find it here.

russian doll ipad coverGood luck on the giveaway.

New Sleeve Cover for MacBook Air in russian doll fabric

After some requests for custom made Sleeve Cover for MacBook Air, I though I would offer it in my shop. It is now listed in all my shops,  for both the MacBook Air 11.6″ and 13.3″. It can be made in any fabric you want (russian doll, liberty, kaffe fassett etc). You can see pictures of fabrics available in my flickr photo gallery (in the 4 folders called FABRICS FOR CUSTOM ORDERS).

You can still get free worldwide shipping in my main shop.

Or you can buy it here if you would like to pay in dollars.

cover sleeve macbook air russian doll fabric

cover sleeve for macbook air matryoshka fabric

Other shop news: I have decided to offer direct checkout in my bigcartel shop. For buyers, this means that you will be able to pay with any direct debit card or credit card. If however you prefer to pay by paypal, then you need to contact me with the details of the item you want to buy and I will email you a paypal invoice which you can then pay.

This week I will be:

* sewing a batch of new large cosmetic toiletry bags

* reviewing my business and production plan

* making time to bake biscuits and muffins

Aldi fruit trees 2014 rootstock

As you may know, Aldi is selling some fruit trees this week. I have bought some from them in the past (peach, cherry, apple, pear, plums) and have been happy about their quality. I have also bought other trees from other suppliers, some costing 10 times more than the Aldi ones. In my experience, the Aldi fruit trees are as good as the more expensive ones, so I went and bought 2 more Aldi trees this week (czar and opal plums). The labels on my trees say that they will grow up to 3 metres. I’ve temporarily planted them in a 55cm pot until my garden buddy is able to come to help me plant them in the ground.

aldi fruit trees

I know that a lot of people with small gardens or allotments want to know what rootstock are used on the Aldi trees, so I contacted them and this is their answer (unedited):

Apples, – These will be budded onto a “M26” rootstock, which will fruit earlier.

Cherry, – These are budded on to “Colt” rootstock which has uniformed growth pattern, it is semi vigorous and will not grow too large.

Pear, – These are budded on to a “Quince A” rootstock which is a virus free example.. Williams Pear – Pyrus Communis

Plums, – Will be budded onto a “St Julian A” root stock or a “Myrobolane” root stock these are virus free and semi vigorous growing.

I will grow my trees as standard and will prune them if they get to big. While looking for ideas on how to fit more trees in a small garden, I stumbled upon the picture below (the fruit trees used in the picture are from Lidl, so I am sure that you can also get the same results with Aldi trees). I would love to do this somewhere in my front garden.

criss cross cordon fruit treesPhoto via www.pinterest.com/pin/134545107591887908

In my own garden, I finished weeding the front garden and have planted lots of tulip bulbs there. There is still lots of tidying up to do in the side yard and back garden, and I am going to start sowing seeds indoor this week-end.

On the sewing side, I finally sewed a cover for my sewing business diary/planner. It’s an A4 size and I used a fabric called Giverny Wildflowers (by Kate Spain/Moda) for the outside, and the lining is made with a paisley fabric (by Wendy Bentley/Timeless Treasures). If you fancy sewing one for yourself, there is a very good tutorial on Lara Cameron Design Blog.

handmade sewing diary planner cover sewing diary planner cover

By the way, thank you so much to those who have ordered from my new shop. You can still get free delivery this month. I’ve set up the shop to have prices in pounds but I am now wondering if I should change them to dollars as a good majority of my customers are international. Also, payment is processed by paypal but I wonder if I should sign up to direct checkout which only accepts debit and credit cards. For those who have a bigcartel shop, do you have any advices for me regarding those 2 issues? For my etsy shop, direct checkout and paypal are offered and I have noticed that most buyers use the direct checkout.

I’m also in the process of re-working my packaging, and have ordered some new business cards from Overnightprints. I’ve used Vistaprint and Moo before, but found out that Overnightprints offer better prices, I paid £32.16 (VAT and shipping included) for 500 double side cards. I am very happy with the quality of the cards.

business cards handmadewithjoy business card

This week, I have enjoyed:

* watching Sean’s allotment garden 2013 movie on youtube

* reading Creating Money by Sanaya Roman

*doing a meditation on magnetizing business for self employed people by Orin / Sanaya Roman

Handmade Gifts book

Sorry I have not been blogging for months. I really want to make more effort with this blog so I am thinking of having a blog post once a week from now on. I would be very grateful if you could let me know what you would like to read more on my blog: gardening, sewing, selling handmade, sewing room ideas? Thanks in advance.

Do you remember the book I was working on beginning of this year? It is now available to buy in all bookshops and you can view it on amazon (ISBN-10: 1409334058  ISBN-13: 978-1409334057):

www.amazon.co.uk/Handmade-Gifts-Dk-Crafts/dp/1409334058

Amazon and some of its marketsellers offer international deliveries if you would like to buy one but live outside of UK. I’ve bought several copies there for members of my family in France. I got my copy from the editors and it is a great book with a lot of lovely crafts to make. I will do a proper review of it another time but here are a few pictures:

Handmade Gifts book   Handmade Gifts book DK

The book was written with several other crafters and is published by DK (they also sell the book directly there – as a hardback and an ebook), my contribution is on page 106 and my name is on the authors page 251).

my ipad cover in Handmade Gifts book

This is the list of projects in the book along with the name of all the contributors. My name is on the top right of the right page.

Handmade Gifts book authors

Handmade Gifts book Lova

Yes I know, I have a very long name. For those wo are curious about it, I am originally from Madagascar.

To celebrate the release of the book, I thought I would offer FREE DELIVERY (including international deliveries) for all my handmade items (including custom made items) that are purchased directly from me (not from my shops). So if you would like to purchase something, have a look at one of my shops (links on the right column bar) and contact me here  – by leaving a comment (or via any of my shops) and I will email you a paypal invoice. You can pay by bank transfers (or cheque/postal order/cash at any HSBC bank) or by paypal.

Here is a Nook cover that I sewed lately for a customer.  I now I offer a custom fit cover for any ereader (Kindle, Nook, etc), and you can also chose the fabric you want (I have more than 100 fabrics to chose from).

On the sewing room front, I haven’t had time to re-organise it yet but I found a nifty solution for storing my iron board. If you remember, I have found my dream table which serves as cutting table (with a self healing mat on the right side of the table) and an ironing table (with a homemade portable ironing board on the left side of the table). My iron is big bulky and heavy so I don’t want to store it in a cupboard as I use it everyday, but it does not look nice permanently on the table, so I put 2 Ikea mini chest of drawers on top of each other under the table (like this one but mine has 9 drawers) and now my iron sits on top of those drawers and is ready to be used anytime.

sewing room iron storage

Now, I am still debating whether to sew a curtain or not to hide all the junk under the table (right now, my tulip bulbs are parking there until I plant them in december). And talking about gardening, here is a picture of my side yard this summer (in august), as promised. I will write a blog post about my success and failures in the garden this year, next time.

my side yard august 2013

 

spring garden and a bit of sewing

The weather has finally improved (we still had snow last week) so I put my seedlings outdoor during the day since last sunday, they are protected in their propagators and seem to like it. This is really necessary as they don’t get enough light indoor and risk getting leggy. Once the temperature gets higher, I will open their ventilation or will take the cover out.

seedlings in propagators

As I was able to go outside in my t-shirt (I’m brave, the temperature is around 11 degrees this week), I took some pictures of the very few flowers that I have: 2 daffodils, 1 hellebore, 1 camellia, some anemones, some bulbs. I should have more flowers but as everything is behind, I guess they will come out end of april.

bulbs   hellebore

daffodil    bulbs

daffodil    camelia

The only tree flowering is the apricot tree (most of its buds have opened since I took this picture on march 22nd), it’s currently in a 60cm pot in my back garden.

apricot flower   apricot tree

Back in march, during a warm day, I sowed some beetroot (chioggia variety) in this raised bed. This bed has a permanent thornless blackberry, some tulips, a couple of thyme plants, a hardy fuschia, and a peony tree). I also potted up a pineapple guava (and a grape plant) that I recently purchased, that was a big mistake as they had some tender new growth and shortly after we had a severe frost so the leaves suffered badly, I cut off some of the badly affected leaves and hope that those plants will recover.

small raised bed   pineapple guava

While in Aldi, I saw their gardening offers and couldn’t resist buying a greengage Reine Claude Ulena tree, after googling it I believe this is the Reine Claude d’Oullins (France) so I am very chuffed. I also bought a red gooseberry (so now I have a green one, yellow one and a red one). Both were at a bargain price of £1.99 each.

greengage reine claude ulena      red gooseberry

Sewing wise, I made a driving license holder. This was a special request from a customer. I now stock it in all my shops. This one is made with a russian doll fabric but it can be made in any fabric of your choice (liberty etc).

driving license holder    driving license holder

I am also in the process of redecorating my sewing room. I recently got a great table that serves as a cutting table and an ironing table. I actually made an ironing board that sits on that table. I want to use the space underneath so am looking for a low storage unit that can fit under the table. I also want to create a new inspiration board (on the now blank wall), and want to swap the ikea fabric storage cabinet with another ikea buffet for a change. In my meantime, here is a glimpse of the table.