Monday, 28 September 2009

quilt-embroidered velvet

Have you ever worked with velvet? I hadn't until this week  .... not even in the velvet revival of the 1970's when it seemed every fashion conscious die-hard had a jacket with big BIG lapels. My friend had one and I was very envious but I didn't earn enough money working in Mr Beestons local deli to make a velvet jacket - let alone buy one, so I had a good old Crimpolene number instead! Still the wide lapels, nipped in waist and vented back but it was a poor second to Alisons' true velvet number! So, when when I found this gorgeous lilac coloured cotton velvet last week I just had to buy it and have a go at making something. A bag will be easy I thought .... ha ha ha ! The velvet fairy must have keeled over in hoots at that thought! NOOOOOOO it is not easy to work with. It slips and slides like a slippery eel I can tell you ... and apparently cotton velvet is supposed to be much easier to work with than silk velvet!

I knew I had to watch the run of the nap and had already thought to use my even-feed foot but it still slips. I eventually realised after a couple of rips that pre-basting with needle and thread is an absolute MUST for working with velvet. Pinning just will not hack it. It is the most bazaar fabric out. But it is gorgeous which is why I persevered and made not one but 2 bags!

Quilting the birdy embroidery was a doddle. I didn't even stabilise the fabric for that - just loaded it on my long arm frame and hey-presto it was done. One cute, very subtle green birdy sat on a tree branch -- design courtesy of One Song Needle Arts.

The bag design is kind of my own although I think I must have been influenced by one I saw in a book by Tone Finnager. Anyway I had a couple of these round handles and had been wondering what to do with them for a long time and I thought they would be perfect for this bag. There is something very sumptuous about velvet. It drapes sooooo well and has a degree of sophisication about it no other fabric has - which is very funny considering I allocated one of them to be a knitting bag! (My knitting is not sophisicated I can tell you!) No seriously, I think they are lovely bags and would make perfect gifts for someone. Which is why I have put them in my shop!

Talking of shops ... the Buzz bag has buzzed off to Denver this morning and I am buzzing to think someone else likes what I made!  

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


I'm growing increasingly interested in marketing and how social media networks have a key role to play in the design and development of company marketing.  I found this Moda promo video today. I thought it was pretty good in telling their story .... what do you think?

Monday, 21 September 2009

buzz bag and winners!

Do you remember the wasp spider I blogged about
here? well I just kept thinking about her yellow and black colouration. So much has it been on my mind that I am being drawn to yellow and black fabrics now and when I found this floral abstract in Blendworths I was just leaping about the place. I think it has some linen in it but I cant be sure - is there a way to tell?   It feels like a blended mix ... almost a bark cloth even. Anyway its lovely and I have enough to make a couple of things from it. Today I made a 'buzz bag' , so named in honour of my garden spider and I have popped it in my shop for sale.

I also want to say a BIG thank you to everyone who entered my booty giveaway.  If I can be candid - it wasn't a tremendous success and its just as well I am thick skinned enough to continue blogging.  I am not sure why some blogs do well and others pale into insignificance but then we can't all be Attic 24's or Crazy Mom's I suppose.  I had hoped that I would get a dozen or so suggestions but hey ho I like the ones I got ... we had Blippers, Chuboots, Kozys, Chubblies and Sloots as suggestions. I liked them all!  So who to give the booty giveaways too?  Well guess what - you are all going to get a pair!   I have the 3 'development' pairs that are shown in the blog to giveaway if any of you can use these sizes BUT I will make bespoke pairs if they are no good for you. I know Bilbo who suggested Chubblies wanted 10" ones  ... so you will get a special pair.  But can you other ladies please contact me and let me know what size you would like too and an snail mail address I can post them to please. To get a size measure your feet in inches from heel to toe and add 1".  

As a reminder the 3 booties in the picture are :
The red pair are BIG!  and will fit an XL adult size (12" toe to heel)  , the green are child large (8.5" toe to heel)  and the pink Infant large (5.5" toe to heel) 

Sunday, 20 September 2009

make do and mend

I found a book called MAKE DO AND MEND this week that is  full of reproductions of the official Second World War instructions for keeping your family and home afloat on war rations!  ISBN no is 978-1-84317-265-9 published by Michael O'Mara Books Limited. 

Its a nostalgic collection of propaganda leaflets that were published by the Government of the day and made available to millions of British people during the Second World War to help them make the most of fuel, clothing and household shortages.  

I have been really fascinated and amused by all the advice they gave about repairing, recycling and reusing .... all good advice that interestingly enough is so very relevant today.  Advice such as ...

"keep the lids on your saucepans .. this is most important. It takes 15% less gas to bring food to the boil in a covered pan ...."  


"your cup of tea ... rationing has cut down on those cups of tea. Which means that this in itself has cut down on the fuel problem. Nevertheless, you can still make tea in the economical way. For example, never boil more water than is needed. A half-filled kettle comes to the boil in less time than a full one - an thus saves time as well as fuel .."

then there are practical tips on washing ...

"mend all holes and tears before washing .... a stitch in time will be appreciated"

(I wondered how many of us actually mend holes at all  today? )

and on unpicking clothing to refashion and make something new to wear 

" How to unpick :  Take off buttons, snaps, etc.. unpick collar, cuffs , trimmings, etc.. Take out sleeves and any linings, let down hem and unpick large main seams, take off seam bindings, let out pleats, gathers or darts. Always pull out stitching threads as you unpick, and unpick "neatening" of turnings to preserve their full width. This often makes the difference between skimping the new garment and getting the new pattern pieces cut with room to spare".

Well I bet NOT many people do this anymore. I used to think taking old clothing to the charity shop was better suited to my lifestyle.  I HAVE unpicked things to use the material to make quilts but I use the term 'unpick' very loosely -- generally I rotary cut the bit of fabric I want and leave the seams intact because its not worth the effort. I suspect I am not the only person who feels like this too. With raising mountains of 'waste' clothing around the world charity shops are no longer requesting clothing anymore. My local oxfam for example only takes books now. Cheap imports have created and continue to fuel huge clothing surplus's. Its cheaper to buy a new t-shirt now than to wash it!  and talking of cheap ......I had a quick crawl around the market yesterday and found a bag stall selling really nice designer looking bags. There was a great messenger bag I really liked and it was only a tenner.  I was so tempted to buy it but stopped myself.  The stall holder would probably have got it wholesale for a fiver which meant after you took the materials out of that the poor person making it maybe got paid 50p!  Its about time the government did something to stop all these cheap imports. I know it great if you cant afford much but overall its just not healthy for anyone!

well anyway I could get on that soap box for some while  but I wont ....

This book is pretty good and if you get the chance to see it it is worth a read if for no other reason than to see what millions of people HAD to do, not just for the period we were at war but many years afterwards until rationing ceased. I am lucky to have been born well past that time, but its a shame the principals that were employed then because they had too were so quickly forgotten in a new generation. 

By the way ... my boots giveaway finishes tonight. I've been a tad disappointed that more people haven't taken part .... are they really soooo gross? 

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

boots giveaway

I can't say that I am a slippers kind of gal at all. I tend to pad around in bare feet or woolly socks most of the year in the house. Well its starting to get a bit chilly now in the evenings and I was thinking about socks and then my thoughts turned to silly socks and the result was these booty style numbers. I've made several sizes now, following the pattern directions but making minor adjustments here and there until by the time I made the last pair today I threw the pattern and instructions away and did my own thing. I still want to make some minor adjustments but I'm not far away from making a batch for my Chubby Mummy shop. The question is "what do I call them?"  are they boots, slippers or socks or something else?  Ideas will be much appreciated and as a mark of thanks I am going to give away the 3 pairs in the photo. Thats 3 lucky winners (or not so lucky if you don't like them !)   So  ... the give-away will run until Sunday evening 20th Sept 6pm UK time  and all you have to do is to comment on the blog and tell me what you would call the boots !  If you have a preference on booty .. let me know that too!

The red pair are BIG!  and will fit an XL adult size (12" toe to heel)  , the green are child large (8.5" toe to heel)  and the pink Infant large (5.5" toe to heel) 

Monday, 14 September 2009


My hubby took these amazing photos of this spider he saw in our garden today. I have never seen one of these spiders before and my first reaction was to find out what kind of spider it was and to determine if it was poisonous.  Its called a wasp spider and no they aren't poisonous. They are pretty much ground dwelling spiders so why this one was hanging from the arch of a rose arbor is anyones guess, although if you look closely you will see this spider only has 7 legs - so maybe she had experienced an encounter from an enemy and was beating a swift retreat?  They eat grasshoppers and other insects , make weird shape webs, live in the South of England only (usually) and the female is 4 times the size of the male. By the size of this spider I would say it was female.  The female also eats the male after mating - not so hot for Mr Wasp Spider but then Mrs spider dies in the winter anyway. 

 Its a pretty frightening spider to find I can tell you but I am quite thrilled to have it living close to us because they are so unusual and protected in Belgium - but not in England - odd!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

wrist ache!

Argh my hands are aching and my wrist is sore from sitting at the computer for much of the day updating this blessed online shop I'm trying to get going. Trudi from trudi-quiltingprolifically was very kind a blog or two back to highlight my free bindings tutorial and my shop. It was so lovely of her to do this but of course the shop wasn't really ready so I've been trying to set that right.  It takes ages!  If any of you have ever Etsied or Ebayed you will know how time consuming this can be for one or 2 items but I had 40 odd to put up and at 12.30 today I had only still only managed to sort out just a half-dozen of them. I'm still not finished but the last few will have to wait until after supper and the laundry is done.  The shop is active though and I would love to hear your comments about it.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Passion Killers!

Sew,Mama,Sew is having a Pyjama Party  and I thought I would join in. I made these 2 pairs for myself last year BUT dh has stolen - yes stolen the car and truck pair to use himself!  I used a favorite, but worn-out pair of pj's,  to make the pattern by cutting them carefully along the seam lines. I am very short waisted with a big bum  (I'd like to say I have a J-lo bum but my daughter would scream with laughter  -- no its just a big bum)  and absolutely hate it when jimmies (or trousers for that matter) are cut long on the front crotch seam and not long enough on the rear so you end up with a potential builders crack at the back (because there isn't enough fabric there) and heaps of excess fabric at the front that is ideal when your pregnant but annoying when your not.  My favorite jimmies were just right for my shape and I was mortified when I started to wear them through.  The 2 replacement pairs fit just right too - unfortunately they fit dh well too but luckily he drew the line at wearing pink cabbage roses. I made a master copy of the pattern on butcher paper and have kept them for this years crop!  I have some great novelty prints I want to use - sure to be an ideal passion killer but  at my age passion killers or not ... I'm comfy and warm!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Inspirational Wasps!

 We were unlucky enough to have more than one wasp nest in and around our house this year. This one was in the loft.  I'm not sure what wasps do in the garden apart from be annoying but my family really dont like them and I am the only one  brave enough to deal with them.  I didn't like being a real wasp bully but once they started coming down from the loft and into the house they just had to go. Out came the foaming wasp nest destroyer and in  I went - complete with long sleeves, rubber gloves and goggles!  24 hours later - one dead nest. 48 hours later one carefully picked apart wasp nest.  These little creatures build amazing homes! Layer upon layer of  perfectly formed paper hexagons capsules that house one individual wasp pupae.  It makes me think of a Japanese capsule hotel and as annoying  these little guys are .. I think they are quite inspirational!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

New Shop

I'm beginning to flag .. after a busy week of prep for the street market and No 1 of 3 BBQ's we are hosting this week over I need to flop in a big bath and relax. Only I can't .. it leaks and I'm waiting for the plumber to come. I hate water leaks ... its only a small leak but I cant fix it ( I did try !) It was whilst laying on my back at quarter to midnight the other night I came to my senses and told myself out loud (and in ear shot of DIY challenged DH) that I do not need to be doing this kind of thing anymore. I have spent a lifetime doing DIY things - I'm quite good at them actually but I'd rather not do them anymore thanks. I have other things to do like make textile stuff for the street market. So thats what I did but to be honest I think I would have been better off trying to plug the leaky bath! I enjoyed the day - the weather held and my stall looked very inviting but the fish weren't biting and I only made a few sales. I met some lovely people though and had a lovely cup of coffee from the cafe that my stand was close too. Several people took my cards too and I was very pleased when one lady announced that it was a delight to actually find a stand with something worth buying! My DH overheard her later telling her husband she was surprised to find me selling in a street market though. Well why not .. its good to try new things, although I probably won't repeat this experience. But I have a new one to try! This time its an online shop with
BigCartel. If you haven't found them yet I am quite impressed. Designed for small crafty businesses to sell their stuff on line you get all the product display and selling features of Etsy but without the commission. They have a completely free service but you can only load 5 products and you don't have inventory control but for a small monthly fee you can load more products and have the inventory system too. I've lots of photos to take of the things I have made but I've test-loaded four products to see what happens. Of course I could be plugging a leaky bath again!