Archive for the 'sewing and crafting' Category

And the winner is…..!

December 16th, 2013

Thank you sooooo much to everyone who took part – it was actually quite overwhelming to see how many of you took part, and you all gave such good tips!  I did actually think that I had made life really hard for myself and should have just done something where I could randomly pick numbers out of a hat.  But no.

What I have done, though (cos it was too hard!) is pick my favourite, and then as runner up prizes picked 5 more, who I will be sending a pin cushion out to.  I will also be compiling all the tips together in groups by craft or type so that we can all benefit from them, so watch this space!

As runners up I have picked:

Lee, who wrote:

When laying out a paper pattern – use sewing weights and not pins for a smoother, faster and better cut. You can make some sewing weights (lots of tutorials out there) or use what I do (learned from my great grandmother) use butter knives (the old flatware that is heavy- I have some I use just for sewing! you can find in second hand stores) It works great!

I can definitely vouch for this, and it is far less painful than catching your hand on a pin when cutting out!

Jodi R, who wrote:

I am a perfectionist and I tend to avoid doing things I don’t think I can do a good enough job of. My advice is that you only get better with practice and we all have to start somewhere.
If you don’t start because you don’t think you are good enough you will never find out how good you really could be with practice.
My other advice is to sew with friends often, it is a great way to bond & you will be amazed what you will learn when you just create with other creative people. Not just about creating but about every aspect of life.

I love this, and think it’s fantastic advice, and something that I used to tell all my students, which leads on to

Maureen Hayes, who wrote:

My tip applies to any type of craft, or in fact life in general, it is DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF WITH EVERYONE ELSE! You are unique and wonderful and should be proud and happy with what you make, not always saying it isn’t as good as so and so’s. I know this is hard to do, especially in a Pinterest world that leads us to believe that everything should look perfect all the time, but trust me, if you can do it, you will be much happier and progress much further in whatever you try to do

Just…. yep.  Nothing more to add to that.

Mokki, who wrote:

My tip whatever the project maybe is to keep inspiration around you. A piece of your main statement fabric/paper/embellishment etc., some pictures or small items that inspire or a book with useful pictures/techniques. It helps when something goes wrong or when you’re just running out of steam.
Also break every task into small steps and take your time so you can see your progress and not be daunted by a ‘big’ task; this also helps when you’re running out of steam!

Great advice for projects of all sizes and whatever craft you’re into

Deb, who wrote:

My favourite sewing tip ever is the hidden knot trick when you start stitching by hand. Fold your thread over double then thread both cut ends through the eye of the needle. Push needle through your fabric and then back down very close to first spot. Then pull the needle and thread through the loop at the back of the fabric and you have secured your thread without making an obvious knot!

Great little trick – I love sewing tricks like this!

And the winner is……. (drumroll please!)

Holly, who wrote:

For sewing I always stress to iron WAY more then you think you need too. Cutting carefully and ironing lots will make anything you sew nearly perfect! and for Crochet, to get perfect tension on your hook make sure the loop of yarn can easily slide up and down the shaft of your hook. If it can you will always get even stitches 

These are both really good tips that I used to use with all my students.  The more time you take over each bit of something, and taking care makes for such a better end result, and makes you more confident in your abilities for your next project.

Well done everyone!

I’ll be dropping you all an email now to get your postal addresses so I can ship your prizes.  Thank you once again to everyone who took part, I wish I had a prize for each of you.  I’ll be putting the tip list up soon, and later this week will be sharing some last minute vintage Christmas illustrations you can include in your gifts or crafting, so please pop back again soon.

Pre-shop opening giveaway!

December 9th, 2013

I’ve been beavering away in the background taking pictures of pretty things to stock my little shop up with, but that seems to be taking forever, cropping and re-sizing pictures, amending the colours on some, which quite frankly bores me (wish it didn’t, I would have had lots more blog posts then!) so in the meantime, and spurred on by a post I saw on Sew Mama Sew, I thought I would host a little give away for you and take part in Giveaway Day 2013!



give away

I’m giving away a small sewing basket, pin cushion and needle case pictured above (as well as some other pretty things I will put in as an extra surprise for the winner).

  • The basket is a vintage one I up-cycled and has a padded lid, perfect for poking pins into, and contains a tape measure, needles, pins and a pair of scissors.  It’s made from tiny gingham and has a vintage pink crochet doily appliqued to the top, closing with a duffel coat toggle.
  • The pin cushion is a pretty berry printed poplin, topped with felt leaves and a crochet Irish rose.
  • The needle case is a felt strawberry, hand beaded on both sides and has 2 wool felt leaves for you to store all your needles safely.

All of these have been handmade by me, and I hope will bring many hours of sewing pleasure to the winner.   I always think that no matter how experienced a crafter you are, you deserve to have nice tools to use when working.

Want to enter?  All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me your favourite crafting tip – can be sewing, knitting, crochet – whatever floats your boat really.  The winner will be picked by having the most useful tip for people to use.  I’ll do a round up of all the tips so we can all benefit from them too.

Stuff to note:

I will ship internationally, so this give away is open to everyone, wherever you are.

The giveaway is open until 5pm PST on 13th December (if you’re in the UK that means 1am on 14th!) after which a winner will be picked, and the announcement will be made on the blog, with the winner being emailed by Sunday 15th.


Thank you for taking part, and I look forward to hearing all your tips! xoxo


P.S. Have a look at some of the other amazing giveaways posted on Sew Mama Sew too!


Pillowcase shopper – easy tutorial

June 11th, 2012

It’s been a long, long while since I have posted here hasn’t it?  It’s always been my intention to start blogging again, but sometimes life gets in the way.  However, as they say the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so here’s mine – a super easy (if slightly wordy) tutorial to show you how to make a pillowcase into a shopping bag.  

These are great for when you go charity shopping/ car booting as you can ram a significant amount of stuff into them, yet they fold down to next to nothing.  Enjoy!

You will need:

• A cotton pillowcase, or equivalent amount of fabric.  Try to pick one that isn’t too thin or worn – you don’t want your shopping falling out!  If you want to make a really sturdy bag you may want to line it, in which case you would need 2 pillowcases.

• Small amounts of a co-ordinating fabric for the straps and ties – I have used some gingham here, but if you wanted to make this project even quicker you could use cotton webbing for the straps and ribbon for the ties.

• Braid or lace (optional) – I like to embellish things – just because something is practical doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty too.  I used some vintage cotton lace here as I had a small amount left, but you could use braid, ribbon, ric rack…. Or leave it plain.  You need enough to go all the way round the top of your bag, so around 1.5 metres will be plenty.

• Sewing machine and matching thread

• Stitch ripper/ unpicker (optional but makes life a bit easier)

• Scissors

• Pins

• Tape measure

• Iron and ironing board

1. Make the bag

The first thing you need to do is give your pillowcase a good iron – especially if you have had it stored for a while.  Once you have it ironed , you are going to chop off the end that is open, at the point where the inside “flap” starts.  If you have a particularly long pillowcase, or it doesn’t have a wide folded over flap on the inside feel free to chop it where it looks reasonable.  Measure from the sewn edge towards the open edge and mark with pins where you will cut, making sure you have a nice straight line to follow.  Keep the discarded fabric, you may want to use it for another project.

You now should have a long-ish square that will become your bag.  If you keep your bag with the opening you have just cut on the right hand side as you look at it, you need to either cut or use the stitch ripper  to open up the seam at the top, which will become your bag opening.

Turn your bag inside out, and pin the edge you cut, and sew with a 1.5cm seam allowance, leaving the top edge open.

You may want to sew all the way round the 3 sides to reinforce the stitching that it already there, but this is up to you.  You now have a bag.

To make your bag have a wider bottom, like mine in the picture, you need to make corners on the bottom and sides.  To do this, pinch the bottom seam and the side seam together so they form triangles – try and make sure you line up the seams accurately to get a nice, straight edge.  How far down the line you want to sew is up to you, just remember the further down you sew the wider the bottom of the bag will be, and it will make it become  more triangular in shape.  I sewed mine down 5cm from the point, making sure both corners were the same.

2. Make the straps and ties.

  • To make the bag straps, cut 2 strips of fabric 12cm by 70cm (if you want shorter straps then try 12cm by 50cm) from your co-ordinating fabric.
  • To make the ties cut a strip 9cm by 70cm (unless you are using ribbon / webbing, in which case you can skip this stage).

Fold each strap in half lengthwise, with right sides facing (so you sew on the wrong side of the fabric), and pin so you make a long tube of fabric.  Sew with a 1cm seam allowance, and turn them both the right way out (you may find this easier if you use a chopstick or something blunt/ that won’t mark your fabric.

For the ties, fold the strip in half with wrong sides facing, and tuck in each raw edge about 1/2cm, pinning as you go.  Once you have it pinned all the way down, fold in the ends at the top and bottom.  Sew across the top, along the long edge and across the bottom.  Give the straps and ties a press with the iron ready to attach to the bag.  Fold the tie in half lengthways and cut, so you now have 2 ties with sewn ends.

3. Finish the bag.

You need to make a hem at the opening of the bag – if you unpicked your pillowcase you will probably find that you have a little fold about 1cm in already made for you – tuck this under, and fold over again about 2.5cm so that the raw edge is enclosed.  Pin in place.

Find the middle of your bag opening either by measuring, or folding in half lengthways.  Tuck your ties (cut edge) under the hem, then fold up so that they stick out of the top rather than hanging into your bag.  Measure 10cm away from your ties, mark and tuck under the edges of the straps, making sure that the straps aren’t twisted!  To help with this I usually put the sewn edge towards the middle.

Sew, using a fairly small stitch close to the folded over edge, being careful when you go over the straps and ties, and overlapping.  Take your time over this as you don’t want to hit the folded fabric at a high speed and damage your sewing machine!

Now, turn your bag the right way out so you can attach the trimming.  Starting at a side seam pin in place – I put mine a few millimetres from the folded edge, pinning all the way round, and tucking in the raw edge when you meet at the beginning again.  Sew in place, handstitching the braid ends if necessary.

If you decide to not put any trim on you will need to still do a line of stitching to make sure your bag is strong enough and that the handles and ties are in the right place.Trim off any excess threads and give the bag a press.

To fold up for your handbag, fold the left side of the bag into the middle, fold in the straps and fold over the right side.  Roll up from the end , cross the ties over at the top, wrap around and tie in a bow.

After all that sewing you’re ready to go shopping!


For the love of oilcloth

July 29th, 2009

I seem to have found a new obsession recently – a strange one at that, but people who have been reading this blog for a while now probably won’t be surprised at all by that!

Being a magpie at heart I have always loved shiny things. When I was a goth (back in the day) my love of shiny things translated into several PVC skirts and bustiers for clubbing in – don’t ask! And yes, you do get sweaty! Now, I needed something to help with my “manky table” problem. When we were moving into this house we were really lucky to be gifted a pine dining room table and 4 chairs via Freecycle. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth we accepted and have giventhe table 18 months of hard use – David has a folding games table that sits on top so he and his mates can play with his tiny fighting men of an evening, I have sat and sewn and painted and cut things out on it. Occasionally we have been known to eat at it too. But it’s looking tired, and orange, and I don’t deal well with orange pine. Rather than paint it (I’d like cream, just like my pretty dresser) or stain it (David would like it dark brown, like the floorboards) I thought that an oilcloth cover and some slipcovers for the chairs would be enough to tart it up for the time being.

I’d seen an advert for UK mexican oilcloth sellers Viva La Frida in a sewing magazine and had a look on their website, and was instantly smitten. First of all I ordered 2 craft packsoilcloth 005

oilcloth 006

- which you can see here, basically cos I didn’t know how big my table was (ordering at work on my lunch time!) and then a couple of days later I ordered this gorgeous turquoise rose print, which I adore.oilcloth 002

oilcloth 003

Even David thinks it looks good (which I was a tad surprised at). The craft pack pieces are large enough to make tote bags and make up bags from, so I think I will make some of those up, and maybe some cushions for taking into the garden should we ever get any dry weather this summer in the UK. I am now wondering what else I can cover in these bright, crazy flowery fabrics. I have also started digging out the other bits of oilcloth I have stashed away, which is a surprising amount really. Though to be fair they’re not as nice as these ones…

As an aside, if you wonder what the best way to sew oilcloth is, get a walking foot for your machine – they’re great and don’t stick to the fabric. Saves hours of swearing and frustration!

I can feel a bit of a show and tell coming on with all my oilcloth projects! xoxo

Courses for sewing and crafting pleasure

June 10th, 2009


Long time no see as my Dad would have said…. Reasons for absence range from being locked out of my email address and therefore all other sites that use the same login and password to changing computers, work and general “meh” feeling that I think I moaned about earlier.

Anyhoo, I thought I would pass on details of the courses I am teaching over the summer. The courses are all based at the Textile Workshop in Sherwood (a couple of miles out of Nottingham City Centre with tons of parking, and surrounded by charity shops….) and are organised by South Nottingham College. The 2 day courses all cost £32 for the two days, with most materials already provided for you, although some of them may ask you to contribute a couple of pounds if you need extra. All courses run from 10 til 4, with a lunch break.

11th and 12th July – Transferring Images

Day 1 we will be having a play with various techniques for transferring designs to fabric, including crayons, transfer dyes, pens, photocopies, as well as shoving random bits and bobs through an ink jet printer like printable cotton, Aida and Vilene. A fun day that is a bit like playing, and getting messy!
Day 2 we will spend making an item or items out of your creations from the day before, whether an embellished picture, bag, purse…. the limit is your imagination! If this course fills up I will be offering more dates as it’s a popular course and we can’t have more than 6 or 7 in a group.

If you want to take part and have pictures/ photos you want to print, please bring these along with you on CD or USB stick.

25th and 26th July – Recycling clothes

A chance to refashion some of your/ your childrens’/ your partners’ clothes into something new – we all have plain tops, skirts, cardi’s etc that are perfectly fine, but maybe you are a tad bored with. Learn techniques such as applique, embroidery (hand and machine) as well as basic alterations to help fit. If you are a bit scissor happy then this is a constructive way of having some credit- crunch fashion help!

1st and 2nd August Bag and purse making

2 days of making yourself a handbag (or handbags if you are a super fast sewer!) and co-ordinating zip purse from a variety of patterns. Patterns will be copied at full size a available for you to take away. Materials such as interfacing, lining, zips and fasteners will be available for use, as well as some fabric, although we would strongly suggest you bring along your own fabric for the outer (some of the donated fabric we have is a bit dated rather than vintage…) – 1 metre would be sufficient. The Textile Workshop also stocks Moda and Amy Butler fabrics so you could treat yourself to some yummy fabric whilst you are there!

8th and 9th August Beginners sewing machine skills

A 2 day course to help familiarise yourself with the basic functions of your sewing machine, including setting your machine up, selecting threads, feet and needles as appropriate, different stitches for different uses, putting in a zip (they really aren’t scary!), making a button hole as well as having a play with free machine embroidery. At the end of the 2 days you will have made either a cushion or a purse as well as an embroidered corsage. If you have your own machine and would like to bring it with you so you can learn on it, please feel free.

29th and 30th August Hand and Machine embroidery

Day 1 we will be covering a variety of hand embroidery stitches, as well as covering all you need to know to get started – if you have ever tried a stitch and not “got” it, then this course is ideal for you, as well as being an ideal start to those considering my 20 week course in and embroidery starting in September! All materials will be provided for you including threads, hoops, and a variety f materials to embroider onto.
Day 2 we will be covering the basics of free machine embroidery, including using different threads for different effects, and how to combine both hand and machine embroidery. If you have your own machine and would like to learn on this feel free to bring it along with you.

In september I will be teaching more courses, either 15 or 20 week accredited courses – more details about these in the summer!

If you like the sound of the courses and want to book on to any of them, please contact Karen Taylor (course co-ordinator) at the Textile workshop on 07809 158606, or at the shop on 0115 9603337 and she will be happy to help. If any of you do book on, please let me know so I can put a face to the name! x


November 17th, 2008

Or that really should be “squeek”…. Look who has travelled over from Northern Ireland to come and live with me and keep my pins nice and safe. Eileen, my new granny sent this little lovely over along with a couple of kits to make them as she thought that they would look lovely on my stall, so thank you, I plan to take the kits with me on a long train journey to and from London on Thursday and get them made up.

After a manic week – combination of not feeling very well and needing to sew, sew, sew for the craft fairs the relief I feel as the end is in sight is immense. The Beeston fair was awful – really slow Thursday, a bit better Friday but still not great, and David managed til 1 on Saturday. However, he packed up early (after taking the princely sum of £7) as I was selling out at The Place. If you are one of the visitors that came to the event, you will know what a buzz it was. That’s what all craft fairs should be like, and restored my faith in myself and my little bits and bobs. Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re down (and hormonal, wich always helps…) then rejection of your things you have literally spent every waking moment putting together, makes you think it’s a personal rejection. Especially when I don’t think my prices are expensive….. Anyhoo, I feel like a new person after Saturday. The only shame was that I didn’t have a second to take pictures or have a look at the other stalls other than the ones around me that I could see from where I was, but a small price to pay really.

Better go, I have a cat to get in….. xoxo

My sewing room

April 21st, 2008

Or to give this post another title, what I did all day Saturday. Do you remember me bleating on about tidying up my loosly titled “sewng room” ages ago? Well, I did try and tidy it up, but it got into just the same sort of state pretty quickly afterwards. I think I have been annoying David a little bit (and rightly so) as I have been bringing down armfuls of fabric for cutting things out, and using the sewing machine he bought me for my birthday on the dining room table.. whilst my “sewing room” looks like a junkyard.

Well, this is a product of a long day whilst David had some of the lads over to play with tiny fighting men. Just me, lots of Diet Coke and my iPod belting out cheezy tracks.
I actually feel so much better for doing it (cue lots of “I told you so you slovenly wench” kind of looks) and I really don’t ever want it to get into that state again.

I even sorted out my sewing threads, and managed to fit a few of them on my sewing reel rack I treated myself to from Studio Husqvarna in their sale a while ago. Being ever practical (ha!) I have put on my pretty vintage wooden sewing reels rather than my spools of thread, but I will use them more for hand sewing not machining. I have even sorted out my machine bobbins and thrown out (gasp) bits that were old, manky and a bit battered.
The pile of facecloths that are on the table are actually for working on, not me running out of steam towards the end of the day (I did..) so I didn’t put them away. I also think it’s interesting seeing other people’s workspaces. I get teased at work for having a messy desk, but I know where everything is at least. I have worked with some people with a very tidy desk who still couldn’t find things. What kind of crafter are you? Do you have your own space or corner? Neat or messy?
Can’t say that anywhere else in the house looks better, but one step at a time eh? x x

This is where I shame myself

January 18th, 2008

By showing you pictures of my loosely titled sewing room. I say loosely as there’s not much sewing going on in there at all at the minute. Or, judging from the pictures, will be ever!I had to take pictured to kind of shame myself into some sort of action really. Since before the new year, like many people I have been feeling tired and run down and generally unmotivated. Well I am only just managing to drag myself out of it now.

There are a couple of things that have spurred me on – the fact that at my slimming club last week we worked it out that it’s 31 weeks til the wedding – aargh I have so much to do! That doesn’t seem long at all to get myself organised. And reading other people’s blogs. So many people out there would love to have a space, or as Virginia Woolf put it, a room of one’s own for them to create and feel inspired, and generally have fun sticking and glueing and stitching. I, being the ungrateful wretch that I am have that space and even though the clutter in there is of epic proportions the room is a really good size, not that you would know it, but it’s unusable in it’s present state.I have been using the fact that I am still unpacking and haven’t got a huge amount of storage space for the stuff I have. But that’s poor. I am just slack, and I have to own that. I have booked space at a local craft fair starting in May, and I am already ploughing my way through a load of stuff I want to make for it, but I also have some lovely fabric I would like to make some skirts from, and although I have 2 fully functioning machines I can’t use them. I can barely see them.
So, after finishing loads of stuff off at work this week, my main plan for the weekend it to gut the room and make it a space where I feel inspired. I may make some curtains. I need to put up the pretty indian hooks I have for me to hang stuff on. I need to hang pictures (the only thing on the walls at the minute is a needlepoint picture my mother did years ago – it was hung as soon as I moved in as David was worried it would get broken, and it’s very precious to me). I have some gorgeous craft books and art books (comes from having a degree in History of Art) that I would like to be able to pick off a shelf and read. If I could be bothered it would be nice to paint the room a nice aqua colour (the colour my first sewing room was) as the landlady doesn’t mind at all.

The only thing preventing that is me.

So, now you can see how bad it is.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not, shall we say, the tidiest person you will ever meet. But this, even for me, takes the biscuit. And I shouldn’t have biscuits on my diet!
I will report backafter I have ploughed through the quagmire of crud that is my room to hopefully show you some lovely pictures of my “studio” next week. New room, new name. I may even have a giveaway, a kind of Pay it forward for spring cleaning to to speak, so I will let you know about that x

Oh, and I have another tip for you – try not to shut your finger in a car door - it makes it look like this, and slows your crochet down….xoxo

Dog racing and more works in progress

August 28th, 2007

This is how I feel today…

Do you know I just can’t seem to get myself motivated to do anything constructive today.

Had a lovely weekend – I normally don’t get out very much as I am usually flat broke (good job I kow where to find things for pennies not pounds really) but this weekend was different.

David’s mum and step dad own 4 Greyhounds, 2 of which have come over to live at a “stable” in Lincolnshire, so they can race in England. Now I know a lot of people have reservations about dog racing as a “sport” – and I am one of the first ones to be up in arms about cruelty, but I know for a fact that these 4 dogs are spolit rotten! The pair over in Ireland have retired from racing and now are very large, pampered pets. The pair over here, Gemma and Joey have now lost weight and look like racing dogs. Joey was having a trial to see what his time was before he starts racing again after an injury.

I didn’t realise (duh!) quite how hard it would be to get a decent picture of a dog running. I quite confidently said I would take some pictures, digital camera etc…. When your subject thunders past you at 40mph then it’s a somewhat different thing, but I am pleased with this one.
Here he is being fussed and petted after the race.

He made Beth, David’s mum feel guilty as he gave her a look that simply said he didn’t think very much of her not taking him home and he still remembered her leaving him in Dublin and he didn’t rate that at all. Not a happy bunny!
Gemma was racing that night, and as it was some of the nicest weather we have had here it was lovely time to sit out, enjoy a beer in the evening sunshine waiting for her race. Getting a picture of her, however was an altogether harder task.

Here she is standing relatively still.
Gemma is a real live-wire. She can detect hankies at 20 paces, and she has them out of your pocket and eaten (clean or used, she doesn’t care) before you have time to blink. I had a cold one of the times we were over to visit and she was a bit younger – still had a puppy head on a fully grown dogs’ body, and she managed to wrestle me to the floor and lick me to bits trying to get to my hanky. She just never seems to stay still, and she certainly didn’t reckon posing for a photograph was a good idea.

We then took Beth and Billy to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem – one of the oldest Inns in England that was a favourite haunt for people on pilgrimages, hence the name. If you visit Nottingham, it’s worth a visit – half of the pub is built into the sandstone caves the run through and under most of Nottingham.

The next day I spent some time making progress on some project bags for myself. It was seeing Gemma that got me thinking of hankies, and reminded me of them.
I have a load of my mothers’ cotton handkerchiefs sat in my dressing table, some are really pretty prints, others are embroidered and I felt it was a waste not doing things with them. As I have about 10 projects on the go any any one time, project bags, either for transport or keeping things neat and tidy whilst they aren’t being worked on would be a great idea. I am using some vintage fabrics that I have built up, my mother’s hankies applique’d on and on some, a doily stitched on for good measure.This is a pocket, cut and pinned that is made from some of my grandmother’s fabric. I sound like I have tons of stuff like that hidden away, and I don’t. Just a few precious pieces squirreled away for something at sometime. Maybe even never to use, just to sit and admire. The colours haven’t come out very well in this picture, but it’s mid grey with pink roses climbing up, my grandmother’s favourite flower.

I also decided to sort out my knitting needles. I buy vintage ones when I see them and they are in decent condition, and I have a box crammed full of needles from my first set (plastic, small, size 1) as well as some of my mother and nanna’s after my sister and I split them. I wanted to make myself a knitting needle case, like I have planned for the online shop (when I get my ass into gear and get it running) out of some lovely vintage fabric I have, so I will post more pictures when I am further along than this.

I need to get into the habit of keeping my camera on me at all times. My dad had a period where he worked as a photographer – was entirely self taught, and he was never, ever without a camera. He even invested in a tiny Minolta “spy” camera so he would always have one. That’s maybe why I as an adult hate with a passion my photograph being taken (dreading the wedding ones) – all the hours of having photos taken as a child, although it’s a lovely record of my childhood. My dad would have adored the way technology has moved on and I know he would have been fascinated my digital cameras and computers. Like to think I am carrying some of his, and my mothers’ skills on in what I do.

I had better go an try and be constructive for a bit and get on with some proper work…. though I would rather be sat at my sewing machine!
Claire x


August 13th, 2007

Thank you all for the really positive coments you have given me – don’t know why the heck I was as worried as I was about starting blogging, but then I worry about most things. Then worry that I am worrying too much….

I really don’t know why I get anxious – I have been so lucky over the last few months that it’s only when you sit back and take stock (writing a blog entry really helps you do that) that I realise how lucky I have been. This year has overall been good so far.
Last year was terrible – moved house because my landlord, lovely guy bless his heart died, so we ended up moving into a mate’s house. If Rach and I had been given the opportunity to have cleaned and decorated the house before we moved in it would have been OK. Instead we are still living with a lot of our landlord’s stuff, old and very tired decorations etc. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great chance when we needed it, and our landlord is a mate, and he’s lovely and puts up with no end of nagging from us to get things done. But because he’s a mate of ours, to a certain extent we put up with more than we would have done if it was someone we simply had a tenant/ landlord relationship with. Then there was my job…. Not even going into THAT one – suffice to say I was bullied and undermined every day by my egotistical manager. David found out he was being made redundant, and on New Years Day was told by his mate that he shared a house with that he needed to move out, as his room would become his girlfriends’ extended wardrobe…

Then 2008 seems be panning out a bit better – I started my new job, which I love, and I work with a great team – all slightly crazy, but I can handle that better than if they were “normal”. David proposed to me the night before he moved to London to extend his contract, which was hard for us, but we are through it now and he is now back in Nottingham , which is great. Now trying to plan a wedding and lose weight for it too – aargh!
I think that changing jobs has been a turning point for me. I learned quite a few lessons from my former employers, and learned a lot about myself, and it’s only now with disance that I can see that. I also, as daft as it sounds became so much more creative, and with more vision of what I want Pinky and Boo to be like etc.
I am a member of the local Realcycle network, and through this have met some wonderful people, and have been given some beautiful things, both for myself, and to pass on to others. If you are reading this, Susan and Pamela, then a huge thank you for all you have given me and the support you have shown. Realcycle, and freecycle aim to keep things that still have uses out of landfill, and is a great way of meeting like minded people, getting rid of things and getting new things. (Bit of shameless promotion there, sorry!)

Take this for example – some beautiful vintage suitcases I will use to store my treasured tablecloths and doilies in before the cats have chance to shed fur all over them, from Armorel on Realcycle.

I aired them outside as they smelled a tad of moth balls. Now they have been cleaned and Febreezed, and smell of lavender. One of them still has an old label attached to it. I must be odd as I get really excited by this – probably moreso than about the thing itself….
From meeting Vicky in my new job, and people on Freecycle/Realcycle we have started up a weekly craft group, which has been a lot of fun (only been going 3 weeks, and I look forward to Wednesday evenings so much).
And then there has been one of my elderly neighbours, Edie, who has given me SO, SO much stuff over the last few months, for myself and to pass on to others that may find it useful. Edie used to own a nightwear and children’s clothing factory in Nottingham, and when she closed the factory, she kept a lot of bits. Trouble is, all the years spent doing and making, meant that she is crippled in pain with arthiritis and cannot do very much now. Edie is moving, and wanted a big clear out and I think she liked being able to offload some of her stuff onto someone who would make use of things and appreciate them. Here’s some of the things she gave me this weekend:

Vintage boxes of buttons
Is it me, or do you also find things like this appealing? As soon as I saw them I had a mental list of projects that I would use them on, although I think there’s something really exciting about seeing them all together like this – kind of the waking up on Christmas morning feeling, when you saw your presents sat there, ready to be opened.

Or do I simply need to get out more?

Edie also gave me a ton of patterns, including all the ones she had for her own designs of nightwear, and some industrial threads etc, which I am going to pass on to the local University Fashion school – I feel they deserve to be recognised as part of Nottingham’s heritage, rather than me enjoying them, but not really gaining anything from keeping. She also gave me wool, and an old and rather battered sewing box, that I will do up – she told me to throw it. That’s like asking me to chop a limb off. We don’t throw away! If I can’t use it, I am certain that I know someone who can!

However, the piece de resistance has to be the dolls house she gave me.

The story behind it is her daughter, Christine, loved all things minature. Her son in law decided to make her this dolls house for her birthday, but sadly died 2 weeks before her birthday, which is why it isn’t complete. Edie got it when shortly after her daughter died from MS. Now this has been sat for years, being a very painful reminder of her loss, and she wanted to give it to someone who would finish it.

I forever regret giving away my dolls house to a cousin when I was little – my dad had spent hours wiring it up with lights, my mother making things for the house, and a family friend giving me a porcelain bathroom suite and handmade wooden bedroom furniture (I still have those, I am glad to say) and even though I don’t have children yet, I would love this for myself and any future children I have. It will be a real labour of love and will probably take a goo while to finish it, but I will keep you updated with the progress. David, my other half is fantastic at modelling things, and painting things, as his hobby is Warhammer stuff (leaves me cold, but whatever floats your boat and all that..) so I will rope in him with his skills to make sure I don’t wreck it.

And as it was so sunny, I spent some time outside trying to work on a patchwork quilt I am making
- I am making 4 actually. There is one already pinned together that will be a present from all of us at work to one of our collegues who has just had a baby – Chloe Hope, and 3 others to sell in my shop. The patches are either vintage fabric, including old sheets and some dresses of mine from the late 50′s (cut up years ago – WHY? I ask myself) and some modern fabric, but vintage style. The quilts will be backed in vintage candy striped cotton and machine quilted and hand embroidered.
The panels are of sleeping girls and boys, and are embroidered onto vintage cotton/linen mix sheeting. This will be personalised with the child’s name and applique’d onto the front of the quilt. Will post more with progress.

I had better go, otherwise I will end up gibbering for ages and you will be bored. Will save it for next time! xoxo

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