Tuesday 31 August 2010

Designing on Demand

I've been working on some projects for other people this summer, including designing some Christmas ornaments for an upcoming issue of UK sewing mag Sew Hip (Alice, the editor of Sew Hip said some lovely things about my work in this article she wrote for Etsy's blog recently about UK Etsy sellers - it actually made me blush).

I'm really enjoying the challenge of writing tutorials... but it kills me not to be able to tell you what I'm working on or to share my works in progress with you all like I normally do!

Finding things to blog about when I can't blog about what I'm making isn't too much of a problem (there's always something I want to mention), but it's taking me a little while to get used to working to a deadline (being self-employed I normally don't encounter many of those!) and coming up with inspiration on demand.

When I design things for my own shop, or tutorials for the blog I normally have an idea first and then develop it into a finished item suitable for sharing... but when people ask you to design things for them, you have to pull ideas out of nowhere! to a schedule! eek!

I like to think that my brainstorming skills are improving with practice, though, and once my deadlines have passed I'm hoping to do lots of brainstorming for fun tutorials for the blog in the run up to Christmas :)

Monday 30 August 2010

Designer Crafts

This blog post is a little late - it was meant to follow on from my post about the lovely Quilted Jewels exhibition I went to during the Three Choirs Festival here in Gloucester a few weeks ago... but then I got sick and my blogging schedule got abandoned! Please forgive me :)

As well as the quilts exhibition I made it along to an exhibition and sale of "designer crafts" in a huge marquee outside the Cathedral. The exhibition featured work made by members of The Cotswold Craftsmen, The Guild of Herfordshire Craftsmen and The Worcestershire Guild of Designer Craftsmen.

The marquee was jam packed with lovely things - stained glass, pottery, woooden bowls and boxes, handmade furniture, leather bags and belts, paintings, photographs, woven textiles, metalwork and a whole assortment of jewellery.

I was particularly smitten by Rachel Padley's glazed bowls, the adorable wooden animals by John Johnson (we're big fans of these and are gradually building up our own mini wooden zoo - so far we've got an otter, an owl, a rat and a wonderful badger) and the totally stunning stained glass by Frans Wesselman. (Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take close-up photos of any of the individual stalls in the marquee, but please do follow the links to see lots of images on the designers' own websites).

Sunday 29 August 2010

Paperchase Pretties

We went to Bath for the day last week, for a bit of shopping and a lot of pressing our noses against the windows of shops so expensive we didn't dare go in them for the sake of our bank balances!

The boyfriend picked up a few bargain charity shop books and I bought a new dress and treated myself to some lovely paper goods from Paperchase. I can never resist a branch of Paperchase.

Letterpress notecards covered in teacups (I'm so predictable!) ...

... and a Sukie postcard covered in birds:

I've got a trio of large Sukie handkerchiefs which we use for wrapping our sandwiches for packed lunches and picnics, decorated with patterns of moths, leaves and birds. The birdie one is definitely my favourite, and the more times I look at that postcard the more I think it would be a good idea to keep it and frame it...

Saturday 28 August 2010

80s Child

Earlier this month Etsy published a cute article about sticker collections, and it inspired me to dig out my old sticker book and have a nostalgic flick through it...

Some pages are now almost empty (thanks to being plundered over the years to decorate letters, birthday cards and other things) but it's still got plenty of treasures!

Friday 27 August 2010


Newly added to this week's to do list: tidy up and untangle my sewing thread!

Thursday 26 August 2010

Mending and Alterations

Ah, mending! I'd never throw things away just because they lost a button or ripped a seam but my goodness mending things is dull. It's right up there with ironing on my "loathed domestic chores" list and despite sewing things for a living the mending pile is often neglected for months.

So I'm feeling very virtuous this week for getting a top darned, a rip in a cardigan mended and two pairs of too-long trousers hemmed. Hurrah!

I'm also thinking about tackling another "make do and mend" project, altering another vintage dress that's been lurking unworn in my wardrobe for years.

I love this dress - the florals! the multicoloured buttons! the ric rac trim! - but I never wear it because the sleeves are just too huge. They start out as a sensible width and balloon out to these big flappy things that while being deliciously retro are completely impractical for anything other than a fancy dress party.

I'd love to be able to wear this dress all through the autumn, with bright tights and cardigans but to do that I need to alter the sleeve to make them more wearable (and to make them fit under my cardigan sleeves!) ... making them narrower and maybe adding a cuff? I predict much googling of sewing tutorials in my future!

Monday 23 August 2010

More Secret Scraps

I've been working on more "secret" projects this week - fun new things I can't show you just yet.

Here are some of the scraps...

... I'm particularly loving the autumnal tones. Must be all the cold & wet weather we've been having lately.

Sunday 22 August 2010

Vintage Dreams

After having lots of guests to stay last week I've realised just how little spare bedlinen we own.

I've been trying to find some on the highstreet that I like but I've gradually realised that what my heart really wants is lots of vintage-style florals like this (the current star of my linen cupboard)...

.... and the current fashion for bedlinen just can't match up to those dreams (or those prices - the pink florals cost a mere £4 from a Bristol charity shop).

I've not found any bedlinen I like yet but while looking for some online I found this gorgeous stash of floral fabric:

It's a pair of curtains and some assorted cushion covers. With all my daydreams about a house full of vintage floral loveliness I just couldn't resist it. The boyfriend think's I've gone mad but honestly isn't it just lovely?

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Comfort Crafting

I was a bit ill yesterday and have spent most of today recovering on the sofa in my pajamas watching Poirot DVDs and doing some knitting.

As you've probably noticed I spend most of my crafty time sewing but I love a nice simple knitting project to keep my fingers busy when I'm feeling under the weather and stuck watching TV all day. (I've got to be really ill to abandon crafting altogether!).

One year when I had the flu I knitted all these little hats for the Big Knit (my mum made all the matching pompoms)...

... and all the blankets I've knitted over the years have started out as projects to keep me from getting bored during one illness or another.

Do you have a comfort craft you turn to when you're poorly?

Sunday 15 August 2010

Quilted Jewels

As part of the Three Choirs Festival there have been lots of concerts, exhibitions and other events happening this week in Gloucester. I went along to St Nicholas Church to see a selection of exhibitions with a crafty theme...

There was an exhibition of work by textile artist Jane O'Leary - the posts on her blog about preparing for the exhibition are really interesting. I particularly loved this piece, the details in it are just lovely:

I fell totally in love with the selection of beautiful engravings by Sarah Van Niekerk (you can see lots of images of her current work here).

The main exhibition was "Quilted Jewels", a display of quilts by the members of three local quilting groups: Montpelier Quilters, Highnam Quilters and Churchdown Patchwork and Quilters.

Seeing the church covered in all those colourful patterns was a wonderful sight - they were hanging everywhere and draped all over the pews in a riot of colour. My little camera struggled a bit with the lighting conditions but I'm sure you can use your imagination a bit!

A few of my favourites were... "Mediterranean Madness" by Linda Simmons:

"Stained Glass Window Quilt" by Mary Davies and "Heraldry Hanging" by Pat Wilson (which included fabrics hand-dyed by Pat's daughter Cathy):

"Farmyard Fun" by Linda Simmons and "Freedom Road" by Valerie Pickard:

"Dazzling Diamonds" by Mary Davies and "Rice Bowls" by Linda Simmons from a Kaffe Gasset design:

"Joined Hands" and "Diamonds are Forever" by Polly Sutcliffe:

And a hand-pieced quilt by Anna Jones called "The First of Many" which was started years ago, abandoned half-finished in an attic and then re-started and finished with the encouragement of the Highnam Quilters group.

I also couldn't resist taking some snaps of the textiles and patterns in the church while I was there :)

Saturday 14 August 2010

Pattern Love

The weather has been really wet and miserable today so I thought a nice bit of happy colour was called for here on the blog to brighten things up a bit :)

This bag has been cheering up my outfits all summer (I bought it in Bristol when I was a student, many moons ago).

That pattern! Those colours! Plus it's lined in pink velvet! Just awesome.

Thursday 12 August 2010

A sewing calendar

Usually the only unexpected packages I get in the mail are returned parcels I originally sent out to my customers, so it was a nice surpise to get a genuine mystery parcel a few weeks ago.

Inside the box were two copies of this 2011 Sewing Calendar:

The calendar featues instructions and pattern pieces for over 100 projects from different crafters - including my bauble ornaments. I'd totally forgotten it was due to be published this month!

Many of the projects included in the calendar are available online but it's a fun alternative to a craft book and a great way to discover some new crafty bloggers. I think it would also make a great gift for the sort of people who love sewing but who are a bit scared of the internet and who are currently missing out on the wonders of the online crafting universe.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

More sale shopping

I may have done some more sale shopping this week... shh, don't tell the boyfriend!

After much umming and ahhing over the loveliness in Joanna Rutter's shop I eventually settled on two wooden badges which will look very snazzy on my sweaters this autumn. They arrived this morning and they're just gorgeous:

Joanna's summer sale runs until Friday 13th August.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

In my absence...

Gosh, how is is the 10th of August already?? I have been a very lazy blogger this month!

August is always a super-quiet time for my online shops but it seems to be peak time for people asking me to to write tutorials for them, work on custom orders or answer interview questions ... so this month is turning out to be surprisingly hectic.

I'm also busy making batches of things ready for the autumn. Every year I dream about getting all the sewing on my to do list done in time for the Christmas rush, but it never happens. A girl can dream though, right?

Here's a peek at some of the things I've been sewing this week...

... cherry blossoms, snowy owls and dahlias.

UPDATE: My dahlia design is now available as a sewing pattern! (and my cherry blossoms and snowy owls are coming soon!) Visit my shop to see all my printable PDF patterns