Secret Valentine Exchange

Because I like to make life hard for myself, on a whim I decided (quite last minute) to take part in this years Secret Valentine Exchange, organised by Ute and Sanae. This is the 3rd year the ladies have run it, although it is the first time I have come across it. The principle is simple – a secret gift exchange for sewists! The key idea for this years swap was to use items from your stash wherever possible, or re-purpose something you own. As someone with an ever expanding stash I thought this was a lovely idea and somewhat surprisingly was a bit stumped at what to make for my swap partner!

The person I was given was Jeanine from Fabriekt and on her sign up form she had specified a few colours and styles she liked in order to give whoever her swap partner was an idea of what she liked –

Naturals, ecru, white, light brown, anthracite, pops of light blue, ochre, neon Cotton, wool, linen (natural fibres). No religious symbols. Clean, simple designs

I decided to make a few things for Jeanine using just items from my stash. First, I dug around in my fabric boxes to see what I could find that seemed to fit her ta

Sweet potato action shot

stes and came across a plain, brand new calico bag. Not entirely sure why it was buried in a box and not being used, but I knew I had some fabric paints left over from a t-shirt project from several years ago, so I chose to potato print a simple design in graduating colours. Using bright yellow and dark blue, I stamped an ‘x’ shape in lines and tried to make the colour fade. Turns out that I’m not the best at potato printing (probably haven’t done it since I was a child, but I feel it should have a  renaissance – ALL THE POTATO 20160207_131835PRINTS! Also finger painting, while we’re on the subject…) and you would not believe how hard it is to carve a cross into a potato but I do think it’s actually worked quite effectively. Plus ‘x’s seemed appropriate for a Valentine exchange!

Next I dug around to see if I had any leather scraps left over from a uni project. I found a large enough piece of sheep leather (from Pittards, if anyone is wondering – highly recommend) and decided to make a simple needle book. I used gold thread left over from an embroidery project to stitch the cover and the white felt leaves into a book, and then stitched a small simple star shape on one corner. Super simple but the rich peacock blue of the leather worked really nicely with the gold thread, and fitted Jeanine’s colour preferences!

Finally, I came across a piece of lovely soft hand dyed African batik cotton, left over from a cushion project years ago (talk about stash busting!). There was enough left to turn it into a simple snood and after I’d had a stalk through her Instagram I decided the mix of colours would suit her colouring well. One long edge of the fabric had thread tassels all along, so I think this might have original been a shawl or a scarf – it was given to me 20160207_132501for the project and I was reliably informed that it was hand dyed, but I did have to own up to Jeanine on Instagram that I had only made the snood – I wish I could create as beautiful batik work! I left the tassels as they are and hemmed the opposite side, and then French seamed the piece into a tube. It’s long enough to wrap around the neck

Testing the snood for warmth

twice, and because the piece was also quite wide it seemed like it would be quite warm too!

I sent my parcel off to Jeanine and thankfully it was well received (an only a few days late, whoops), so I’m really pleased with how it turned out. However, in hindsight, I probably wouldn’t leave it until the last minute to sign up to another swap! Unfortunately the parcel sent to me by my swap partner has not turned up yet, and when I contacted Ute and Sanea they were really quick to see what happened (dear Royal Mail, please deliver it soon…) so thank you very much ladies. To my swp partner, if you are reading this, I promise to let you know if it ever arrives, but in the mean time, thank you for participating in a swap with a stranger!











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