Sunday, 29 December 2013

Hexie Love

This is a crafting post, albeit not a miniature one! 
I must confess; I have a new love. I’ve been unfaithful to miniatures. How can I describe it? They come in a whole range of colours and sizes but are always perfectly-formed. I’m talking of course of hexies - specifically the hand sewing technique of English paper piecing. I stumbled upon this technique while looking for something to do that involved no machinery and very little kit since nearly everything I own has been in boxes for the past 3 months. 
 
It looked so precise I thought I couldn’t do it but then I found a very easy to follow tutorial on My Poppet and realised I could do this! She also provides a handy template, and lazy as I am this was how I decided on the scale of my first hexie project. I’m following a traditional grandmother’s flower garden pattern (hexie flowers with paths in between) but using all sorts of random colours. 


lotsa hexies!
 
My hexie project uses up all my scraps of fabric and doesn’t require too much intellect since the colour scheme is pretty random other than following a certain shade. No worries about cutting out the correct number of hexies! It doesn’t make any noise like the sewing machine does, so I can do it at any time of day or night, in front of the tv without annoying the hubbie.  And the best part? It is SO satisfying! The corners are so nicely precise and even when they don’t quite match up it’s an easy fix.


 
When I started my hexie project, I didn’t know what it was going to end up being. A table centre? A table cloth? Now it’s getting to the point it’s almost certainly going to be a quilt, although I don’t know if it will be a single or double yet. It depends on how addicted I become. The great thing about it is, when I do get a bit sick of it, it all folds up into a couple of bags without overtaking my whole living room. I’m not sure when I’ll ever finish it, but when I do I’ll share it on the blog.
 
Where will it end? Nobody knows.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Happy Handmade Christmas

Happy Christmas to those who celebrate, and Happy Holidays to those who don't. I made a conscious effort this year to hand make as many Christmas gifts as possible. The key to this strategy is getting started early, and I mean early! Mid November just isn't going to cut it!

I blogged about it at the time, but last August I completed a Baby Jane quilt for my mother-in-law. This took eight months to make start to finish, and I bought most of the material and wadding specifically for this project, so it was not exactly cheap. But I hope it will last years and years, and for the money I did spend, I would never be able to buy anything close to this quilt.

 
For my mother, I made a couple of cushions to match her dark green sofa. Now these were super cheap as I used all leftover fabric for these. The cushion inserts were bought in a super cheap sale a few months ago, so the only thing I bought specifically for this project were two green zips for less than a couple of pounds. Result! Also, I did iron these before I gave them away, sadly not before I took the photos. Domestic Goddess FAIL.

 
This is my first attempt at clamshell appliqué. Previously, all my appliquéing has been done on to a backing piece, whereas these all sewed directly to each other. I found it quite challenging, but felt I got the hang of it a few rows in.

 
This design is called the tobacco leaf and combines machine sewing for the background and hand appliquéing for the petals. I still don't always have everything lining up perfectly, but at least my sewing is now very solid and not likely to fall about at the seams. Which is just as well, my mother has a cat who doesn't understand the words, 'get down'! 


 
For my nan (in-law but I consider her my nan!) I made a couple of pot holders in October. Except we ended up giving her these for her birthday a little while before Christmas (organisation FAIL). These were made from leftover material and wadding from the Baby Jane quilt.
 

 
Here's what Nan did eventually end up getting for Christmas:
 
 
Each hexagon is 2cm wide.
 
I recently discovered English paper piecing - mainly out of necessity rather than because I am a massive fan of hand-sewing. During our house move my sewing machine was out of commission for a couple of months so I needed a hand sewn project to keep me occupied. Doubled with my no mini-making supplies access troubles, I really needed something to keep my hands busy that didn't take up much room. So I made her a wall hanging using teeny, tiny hexagons. These were all paper-pieced and hand sewn, with just the backing and binding done by machine.
 
With hindsight, I wish I had used all block colours for the flowers and not patterned fabrics, as I think this would have made it easier to discern them. But we live and learn. Overall I am pretty pleased with this as it ended up a very tidy piece.
 
And I did put my miniature skills to good use too, I made some pizza earrings for my sister-in-law.

 


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Lessons I have learnt since moving to the country

As you probably know, I moved house this year. We've always been semi-rural, but now we are on the very outskirts of a rural village where people keep animals and there's hardly any buses. I feel much more out in the sticks, and for the most part I am loving it. We've more space, we're less over-looked and certainly don't have to worry about where to park the car anymore. It's great. But I've learnt a few things too since moving to the country.
 
In no particular order:
 
Mains gas is a luxury that you should never take for granted (as is mains sewage).
 
Learn which neighbours keep which animals in advance. That way, when some little, lost quails come chirping into your garden you know who to return them to before one of them flaps over the fence into next door's garden (which is unfortunately full of dogs).
 
Be good at giving directions because TomTom cannot find where I live and neither can anyone else.
 
Road gritters, what road gritters?
 
Ducks are noisy hooligans.
 
Even the local council doesn't actually know when the bin lorries come to my house. But my bin keeps being emptied so I don't mind too much.
 
Watch out for bunnies in the road (and really stupid ducks)!
 
Invest in torches. When you don't have street lights, it is pitch black outside at night. I've no idea why this came as such a surprise to me.
 
Watching the little birds from my kitchen window is one of life's great pleasures.
 
The further out of the centre of the village you live, the 'quirkier' you must be. As mentioned, I'm on the outskirts and seem to fit into the system quite nicely.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Gingerbread Galore

I was featured in a gingerbread treasury. Just looking at it is making me hungry.
Can you spot which ones are 'real' and which ones are miniature?

https://www.etsy.com/treasury/ODMyNjE0MHwyNzIyODYwNjQ3/its-that-gingerbread-time-of-year


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Random Christmas Craft

I made this recently. I had little oddments of Christmassy fabric and no sewing machine available, so I made this little project. It is entirely hand-sewn and made using English paper piecing.
 

Can't get the hand of photographing sewing projects!
 
I rather enjoyed making this. Unlike most of my sewing projects, it was quite small (7.5" in diameter) and therefore quick to complete and instantly satisfying. It only took me a few evenings start to finish. I was going to use it as a pot holder or a table centre for my round table, but it's too pretty to cover up so I think I might sew on a tag and hang it on one of the many nails in my walls.
 
 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Yuletide Miniatures

I love Christmas, truly I do. But I don't love how early it seems to start each year, so I try not to blog about it too soon (except for the posting dates, that's sort of necessary!). I don't have any Christmassy miniatures to showcase this year that I haven't already shared with you, due to not being able to make any new miniatures since our big house move. This sucks majorly! So I'll take this opportunity to showcase somebody else's festive miniatures instead.


https://www.etsy.com/shop/minicris?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Gingerbread sleigh by minicris

https://www.etsy.com/shop/wonderworks?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Christmas tree by WonderWorks


https://www.etsy.com/shop/MMMinis?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Basket by MMMinis

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheLittleQuiltShoppe?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Christmassy quilt set by TheLittleQuiltShoppe
 
 
This has helped put me in the mood now! I ho-ho-hoped it cheered you up too (sorry!).

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Fishy...

I love fish, it's one of my favourite foods! And so do my miniature friends it would appear.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/littletimewasters?ref=l2-shopheader-name
12th scale salmon dinner

https://www.etsy.com/shop/littletimewasters?ref=si_shop
12th scale salmon and crudités platter
 
https://www.etsy.com/shop/DreamingChameleon?ref=l2-shopheader-name
A wonderful fish pie by Dreaming Chameleon
 
https://www.etsy.com/shop/cinen?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Oysters on ice by Cinen (I'm not quite brave enough
to try these in real life, but these look great!)
 
 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

So I'm a day late wishing our American friends, but I'm British and I never remember until late in the day. We had our own British version of Thanksgiving in our house and feasted on fish and chips! When I think of what I'm most thankful for, it has to be family and friends, especially given the amount of help they've given us since we moved house. What about you?

https://www.etsy.com/shop/littletimewasters?ref=si_shop

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Pink Treasury

Thanks to WhimsyWooDesigns for featuring Little Time Wasters in this cute, pink treasury on Etsy!

https://www.etsy.com/treasury/MTMyMjI0MzV8MjcyMjcyNDQ2OQ/pink
 
Can you spot which one is mine?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Christmas Posting Dates

Yes I know it's far too early to be talking about Christmas constantly, but it turns out it pays to be organised. Who knew the Christmas posting dates were so early?

I'm based in the UK, so if you want something to arrive to you from my Etsy shop in time, please make a note. (These are my posting dates, I've had to allow a couple of days extra for getting to the post office etc.)

Last posting date from the UK to:

USA: 11th December

Canada, France, Poland & Greece: 6th December

Other Western European Countries: 11th December

Australia & New Zealand: 1st December

UK: 16th December

If I've forgotten you and your country I do apologise, these are the ones most of my customers seem to come from. You can always convo me via Etsy and ask.

Please note, these dates are not guarantees that your package will arrive before Christmas, they are what the Royal Mail recommends!


http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/littletimewasters?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Makes me all jolly inside!
Now I promise to hush up about Christmas until at least mid-December.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Let there be music

While procrastinating instead of being productive, I chanced upon some beautiful musical themed miniatures on Etsy. In my dream dollhouse, there would most definitely be a music room, and here are a few of the things I would love to put in it.

Old Black Grand Pianao by BentleyHouse Products

Music Stand by DawnsMiniatures

Mandolin by DawnsMiniatures

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Guten Tag

It's been a crazy, hectic time of late in the land of Little Time Wasters. As mentioned, I moved house a month ago. I'm out in the countryside with a little bit of land and a house which requires a LOT of hard work to get it even livable. And we still haven't got  the internet sorted properly, thus my intermittent blogging. 

I'm currently writing to you while on a business trip in Germany (where they have internet and civilization!). Here are a few of the local delights I plan on savoring this week. And when I've finally got my house in some kind of rudimentary order, I might even make some miniatures of them!

Is there anything more German than beer and sausages?
Pity I don't actually like either.
Schnitzel

Strudel is one of my favourite things here.

I love a German style breakfast!

Pretzels which are actually called Breze in Bavaria.
I love Kinder Country - they're delicious.
If anyone knows where you can buy them in the UK,
please let me know!

Friday, 8 November 2013

I'm back! Sort of...

I've finally reopened my etsy shop after lots of big life changes! I've moved house and didn't have the internet. I don't have a brilliant connection right now but it's better than it was.

While my shop is open I cant actually get to the post office until 18th November. But if you see anything you like you can order it and it will be reserved for you upon my return to normal life. Hurrah!

Sorry this post is so basic, I'm not yet on my normal computer and am completely inept on this device. Can't wait to get back to normality!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Mini-Making Essential Kit List

One of the things I like most about making miniatures from polymer clay, is you really don't need a lot of kit to get started. Of course like almost anything there are loads of things out there to tempt you, but you really don't need to spend much money in the beginning. Here is a list of the essential kit I use for making miniatures.


Polymer clay - I use the Fimo brand purely because it's readily available where I live (Europe) but the Sculpey brand which is more common in the USA is good too. Plus you can mix them together with no ill effects. I prefer Fimo Soft because I am lazy and don't enjoy conditioning clay, but I do sometimes use Fimo Classic for colours not available in the Soft range. As long as you give the Classic range some extra conditioning, it mixes perfectly well with the Soft range.

An oven - I have an electric oven. No special kiln needed to cure polymer clay, just a normal kitchen oven. It leaves a slightly funny smell, but it's non-toxic and perfectly safe to cook polymer clay in the same oven as you cook food, just not at the same time!

For safety's sake, I would recommend
marking the blunt side of the blade, either with
colourful tape, or with a thin layer of clay.
Ceramic tile - I use a large white ceramic tile to work on as the clay doesn't get stuck to it and I can put it straight in the oven to bake without having to move my uncured and fragile miniatures.

Sharp blade - nowadays I prefer tissue blades, which are quite specialised and expensive, however in the beginning I just used refill stanley knife blades. These were very cheap and are just fine for most polymer clay jobs. I would recommend the tissue blade for cutting already cooked polymer clay canes, and for very delicate, tiny jobs. But for most other jobs, refill blades work just fine too.

A round pen - I use this as a rolling pin. It's just a circular, plastic pen that I had lying around the house. To this day, I have still never invested in an actual rolling pin for my polymer clay!

Pins and sandpaper - sewing pins can be used for all kinds of texturing, from dimples and crumbs, to lines and trenches. Sandpaper makes great bread and orange peel textures, and you only need a tiny bit.
The only official tool I have,
and I don't use them all!
 Tweezers - I used teeny tiny tweezers to pick up teeny tiny things.

A nice to have but not an essential - clay working tools. I have this set, but probably only use two of them with any regularity. They're mainly useful for mixing polymer clay with liquid polymer clay as they have some bend in them without snapping.

If you're really into making miniatures, you might want to invest in a pasta machine, but I still don't own one, so clearly it's not an absolute necessity. It just saves your hands from all that rolling!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Charming Cake

I used to make miniature cake charms for a shop in Sheffield city centre, and now I've started making them for my Etsy shop. The shop in Sheffield (which alas is no more) was a bead shop, so charms and pendants suited it well. I'm not sure if they'll get much attention in what is predominantly a miniature and jewellery shop on Etsy, but I'll give it a go.


 
Do you think I should make them in more colours?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Miniature 5 a day

I've been making lots of miniature fruit and veg recently.
Here are the fruits of my labour (pun very much intended)!


 
I also restocked the fruit and veg section in my Etsy shop,
so now there's no excuse not to get your miniature 5 a day.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Teeny Tiny Toys

I found the most teeny tiny miniature amugurami animals on Etsy recently. These are made by Lam Linh and are simply amazing! 

 
I love nearly anything in pig-form.
 
 
 

I think that's enough squee for one day. I've no idea how LamLinh makes these, but I love them! They would be such a great addition to a miniature nursery or bedroom.




Friday, 18 October 2013

This is Halloween

It's Halloween soon, so here are some miniature pumpkins
I made recently with just that in mind.



The whole time I was making these, I couldn't stop humming 'This is Halloween' from The Nightmare Before Christmas, which happens to be one of my all-time favourite films ever.

Boys and girls of every age,
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?
Come with us and you will see,
This, our town of Halloween!

This is how obsessed with Nightmare before Christmas I am. Here are Jack and Sally from a poster I made for the corridor of my 1st year dorm at university to cheer the place up. (It wasn't even Halloween.) Jack and Sally are both A4 sized, it was a massive poster! I couldn't get a photo of the whole thing. Luckily I had understanding flatmates.



 
 I never celebrated Halloween growing up. It wasn't a particularly big deal in the UK at the time, and my mother is French, where it was unheard of when she grew up. So American movies are what I base most of my ideas of Halloween on!