Saturday, 18 December 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

I am sat in my living room looking out at the snow through the branches of my Christmas tree, we have had about 5 " in just two hours.  Am thinking about whether I finish a cardigan I am making for a friend or if I should do some embroidery on another gift?  I want to do both!

Now, do you hide your half finished projects?  I have just looked in a cupboard and found a sweater for a little girl, half sewn up but I really don't remember knitting it... what am I like?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

My Rag Wreath and how to make it

I am trying to be really good this year and make as many gifts as possible... so then I thought how can I save money on my wreath?  Well I have to confess each year I have picked up a couple of Christmas fat quarters in the local fabric shop and then I think, what am I actually going to make with this?  The obvious answer is a rag wreath.
  • You will need a wreath shape, I chose a heart shaped wreath from Goods and Chattels, a lovely local shop -  and a selection of festive fabrics from your stash bag.
  • Cut your fabrics into 12 - 14" strips between 1 - 2.5" wide, I used pinking shears which means that the fabric will not fray and gives the fabric an interesting finish.

  • Take a strip and tie it to the wreath using a reef knot.

  •  Build up your strips, tying them next to each other and using a selection of festive fabrics

  • You will see from the back of the work that it quickly covers the wreath

  • Keep working round until the whole wreath is finished.
  • Run a ribbon through the wreath to hang it on your front door.

  • Stand well back and accept the compliments.  The wreath took me approximately two hours from beginning to end and I have to admit to sneaking in a mince pie while I sorted out my fabric and outsinging Annie Lennox as I worked.

Friday, 19 November 2010

How exciting!

What an interesting week!  I posted up pics from the show last week on Facebook and have picked up a couple of commissions for booties.  Yesterday I popped on a picture of my cushions at rest before their next outing and hey presto!  More enquiries which I hope to make into orders.

And I have now started my job search in earnest and have my first interview next week.

Tomorrow, I will be taking more pics for ebay, etsy and folksy, let's hope that the light is good!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The show

Well, I woke up at 6.00am and was well and truly ready to go, even though I was awaiting a late delivery of cushions at 7.30am.. I was done with stuffing by 7.45 am.

The organisation was brilliant, I was not in the main hall but in an ante room which you had to  through in order to get there.  Real lucky stroke, I was given an extra table and here is how it looked.

Booties and bags flew off but cushions were disappointing ... :(  Maybe they will go better in t'internet, not worried about the quality but would have made it a 10/10 event if I had sold just one cushion.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Working hard

OK, I am now officially in panic mode.  It is just about a week before my first show and I don't think I will have enough stuff ready... Argh!

This was the situation at the end of last week but I have now sewn all of these up and I am now up to 35 pairs of booties and aiming for 40.

Bags are coming on a pace and I should have another another bunch completed over the weekend, taking me past the 20 mark.

I am also going to be making some felt bunting over the weekend for my stall, using light mauve as the background, with silver letters and gingham ribbon to hang them from... the pinking shears will be exhausted!

Have just ordered some more ticking to make a few more of these, although I have to say I have not completed three of the boats and will post the completed cushion shortly.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


I have not posted for a little while, as two weeks ago my company received notice that our contract with the Government was to be terminated on 29 April 2011.

Initially this means that around 55 people will be out of a job in London to say nothing of the various production companies to who we give work dotted all round the country, when I started to think about the ripples that casting that particular stone will make I realised that it will affect over 300 people.  

We work really hard with a great product that really does make a difference to schools and I feel so proud of what we have achieved.  I hope that I will find another place to work with so many likeable and creative people, so in the immortal words of Ian Drury "What a waste Mr Gove, what a waste!"

My guilty secret...

is every so often to indulge in a spot of Hardanger aka drawn thread work.  I am afraid it started in the dim and distant past when one of the girls with whom I did my Needlecraft and Dress  O level (yes it really is that  long ago) made a table cloth and napkins in hardanger with contrasting blue and white threads as her orignal piece.  Boy did I covet her project on a Friday afternoon when we spent all afternoon sewing!  See what you started Gaye Casey - I blame it all on you.

Fast forward 30 years and I finally got to play, albeit on a smaller scale with cushions.  I just love the structure and the fear of failure when you cut the threads.  I think of hardanger as being like a Busby Berkley production, the stitches look like nothing on their own but put them together and they create a fabulous bigger picture.  So here are a few of my old cushions:

Monday, 4 October 2010

The elephant

On Sunday I finished another cushion for the craft fair, I had intended making one with flowers but this template of an elephant leapt out at me and demanded to be appliqued immediately.  I then was trying to make all nine elephants in different fabrics when I alighted upon some lovely stripey fabric and the some spotty fabric.

Once I had appliqued the elephants, I top embroidered the saddles in chain stitch and used a french knot for their eyes.

Centenary Reunion at St Bernards Convent High School

On Saturday my secondary school started a year of celebrating its centenary... I remember being in school for the Diamond Jubilee.  Although the buildings have not changed dramatically the layout inside had with a few extra buildings added.  Amazingly ten girls turned up from 5.1 and 5.2 and here are eight of them below:

In the back row, Frances Persighetti - now a GP, Marion Hill - teaching Research at Oxford, Colleen Russell -  teaching Maths to A Level, Lynne Hayes - full time carer for her husband.
Front Row: Catriona Drayton - Speech therapist, Mary Swinney, Christina Lake - University Librarian and me

Sharon Blainey was behind the camera and Bern Dawson left before we took the pic.

It was so lovely to see all these women and to be remembered by the nuns who had taught us albeit 34 years later... so we really couldn't have been that bad, after all!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Why I love my old hand Singer

Why do I love my old Singer machine?

I realise that I have had this machine for 30 years and it is much older than that, my sister bought it for me when I first moved to London for £20 and I had to pay her back at the princely sum of £5 a month, it is probably the best investment that I ever made.

I learnt to sew with my mother's Singer treadle machine and loved the feeling when you sped down a seam working the treadle, perched on the edge of sofa making A lines skirts and more besides... one of the saddest things we did when my mum died was give the machine away, to this day my sis and I regret it but neither of us had the space for it.

But my lovely hand Singer sits in its wooden box, begging to be released, I love the silver chase work on the side, the way the handle flips over and the spool engages to be filled up.  But best of all it never lets me down, it has made bridal dresses, evening gowns, cushions and curtains, quilts and blouses... please don't tell the Toyota but it really is my favourite.

What's keeping me off the streets at night... and during the day!

Here are a selection of my cushions, ranging from applique, quilting and stencilling with a touch of quilting and for the most part run up on my trusty old Singer!

And here are some of my little booties... I actually had someone say, they are so cute I want them even though I don't have children, I was so chuffed!

Getting started!

In about six weeks I will be taking part in my very first craft fair in Leigh-on-sea... selling hand crafted cushions and baby booties... well I have to start somewhere!

At the moment my mind is racing, thinking about all the things that I will need to do to make my 8' x 5' table the best in the show to say nothing of how much stock I will have to make.  If you see a middle aged woman frenetically knitting bootees with elbows flying on the 7.10 to Fenchurch Street, then that is me.

I have been looking around my house at the carnage my crafting is currently leaving, there is my electric sewing machine in the morning room, my old beloved  hand Singer in the dining room and, baskets of wool, needles, crochet hooks and sewing implements in the living room... then there is the ironing board up in the kitchen and the hoover lying in wait in the hall to pick up all the threads that keep dropping.  The idea of changing my second bedroom into a workroom is becoming so attractive... if only I were brave enough to look under the bed and remember what I had squirrelled away there!

Well first post completed... onwards and upwards!