Wednesday, 29 December 2010

So how did 2010 work out then?

So here we are. A year ago I was given my lovely green Bernina by The HusWife and The Magnificent Mum and it has been red hot pretty much all year. What started out as bits of fabric manipulation with old table cloths turned into a bag making obsession, which meandered into an ipad cover frenzy, which then morphed into a (lets face it) pretty bloody marvelous quilting obsession, with the odd tangent down purse and scarf making ally. I have had a bloody lovely year learning how to do all this new stuff and I thought it would be a good idea to review what I've made over the last year and have some thoughts about what my sewing goals will be for 2011. First up, this years creative endeavours:

Taken from my flickr set, this is a mixture of actual things and experiments. I was going to separate the images out but I love how these are displayed together. A quick count shows that this year I made:

3 notebook holders
1 peg bag
9 handbags
7 tote bags
15 ipad covers
1 allotment bag
1 baby dress
1 pencil case
2 zipped granny purses
9 scarves
7 purses
1 denim quilt


And for 2011? What shall I be doing? Well I have 2 other quilts on the go that will need finishing early in the year. I'd like to make a wall hanging of some description for our lounge. Other than that I feel pretty open to anything. I think it would be good to go back to some fabric manipulation and see what comes of it. And use each of the machine feet The Magnificent Mum gave me. Yes, even the darning one. Oh, and maybe sneak in a business plan. I'm so looking forward to year 2 of my sewing experiment. Bring. It. On.

Monday, 27 December 2010

What I made in December can finally see the light of day!

What a brilliant and fab Christmas we have had! So lucky to see family (although sad not to see everyone due to snow) and much merriment drinking Slippery Nipples, playing Cockney Scrabble (East Enders inspired) and going midnight Bag-Sledging (TM). Feeling about 2 stones heavier but luckily, not as skint as usual as I made a lot of presents this year. The good news is that they seemed to go down well; everyone said they were thrilled. It's so good to know that they liked them receiving them, I liked making them = everyone is happy! So, here they are:

Lovely Christmas pressie purses for ladies

Lovely Christmas pressie purses for ladies

I love the jewel like quality of these purses. It was such fun to use my nice fabrics and make them all luxurious and gorgeous. I put little gifts in each one, ranging from Links of London mirror compacts to nipple tassles and er, some other somewhat risqué items that shall remain nameless!

Next up are the boy scarves:

Lovely woolen christmas pressie scarves for men

I used wools and cashmere from The Cloth House and then Liberty print for the binding, all hand sewn. A labour of love but definitely worth it!

A christmas pressie scarf for a man - style 5

A christmas pressie scarf for a man - style 4

A christmas pressie scarf for a man - style 3

A christmas pressie scarf for a man - style 2

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The denim quilt is finished!

Finally, finally, finished my first quilt. I was so blown away when I discovered the Gee's Bend quilts - it seemed to make perfect sense to use up all our old jeans that have been hanging around. The HusWife goes through jeans like nobodys business (it's his balls of steel, apparently) so there was plenty to work with. I used 2 colours of fleece as the backing and some nice corduroy (or needlecord, not sure) for the binding. It so super cosy, very strokey and I love it. It feels great to have made something so massive and useful and interesting. I can't wait to get cracking on more.

Quilt No.1 - Denim

 The binding and backing and top all moosh together in one big coochy mess of loveliness :-)

It was a labour of love unpicking all the pockets from the back and then unpicking all the stitching on the pockets themselves, but I love the marks that came around because of that.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A beautiful bag for a beautiful sister

Today is my little sister Emma's 30th birthday and so a special bag was called for. Here it is, modeled beautifully by Frank our resident skeleton.
Frank modelling the very special bag for a very special lady
It is a small version of The Sidewalk Satchel by Anna Maria made in a beaut embroidered silk and a dupion lining. It is very strokey and very lovely and I rather wish it was mine, which means it is perfect for a special birthday.

Very special bag detail

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Feeling slightly less grumpy now

But am absolutely full to the brim with cold. But all things considered much more chirpy. So chirpy in fact, that I'm wondering what I can do with this photo I took last year up in Yarkshire. Quilt-wise most likely. Bed spread-wise or some such. That's when I've finished the 3 quilts currently underway. And the Christmas presents. And written the business plan for the business that I will have launched by the time I'm 40 that I've been spouting my mouth off about.

But isn't it lovely? The colours, the textures - it's got linen and silk velvet written ALL OVER IT.

Ivy on the wall

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Eleven days after I started...

...and I've made 9 presents. Photos to come. I am literally up to my eyeballs in mess and nonsense. Oh and work has kicked off as well. And I'm getting a cold. And it's freezing and dark.

That is all.

Friday, 5 November 2010

My Bernina foot soldiers ready for the battle that is Christmas present making

I spent my day off today getting stuff organised for the Christmas present making onslaught. Everything is now ship shape and ready to go! And these beautiful, wondrous foot soldiers will be helping me in my quest. (Although I'm not planning on using the darning one *obivously*. In fact, I don't plan on using it ever. The only thing that needs darning round here are the big gonad shaped holes in The HusWife's jeans and trust me, it'll take more than a darning foot to solve those)

My Bernina foot soldiers ready for the battle that is Christmas present making

These feet were given to me by The Magnificent Mum as part of my "welcome to sewing" pack. She clearly had a brilliant time putting them together (evidence below, individually cut up pieces of kitchen paper for the feet to "rest" on, hand written labels etc)

Bernina Machine Feet

They are awesome, and such a wonderful present. I am a very, very lucky lady. Thanks Mumsie. x

Brilliant buttons

Button tin



A lovely gift from The Lovely Step Mum who happens to be just a tiny weeny bit bonkers about buttons. She has a chest of drawers full of 'em - I kid yee not. And now some of them are mine! Hurrah for Mums!

Boy prototype!

The man-boys in our family are all going to get the same pressie for Christmas this year. First prototype finished and modelled beautifully by the lovely Frank, our resident skeleton. (Although upon closer inspection I think he may be a she, pelvic bone suggests so). Lovely bit of wool (double thickness for extra snugness) and some home made Liberty print bias binding. Lovely. More colourways to come.

Frank and the Christmas boy scarf prototype

Frank and the Christmas boy scarf prototype

Christmas boy scarf prototype

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

So much to do!

So, have finally stopped sewing strips of denim together like a woman possessed. I decided that as soon as November arrived I need to get my arse in gear and get on with Christmas presents instead. So, the denim quilt isn't finished, but the top is ready and I'm going to get some fleece to back it with and not bother with batting. And then I'll finish it.

I've set myself a slightly deranged and possibly unrealistic timetable of trying to make 2 presents a week during November in order to get everything sorted for Chrimble. Of course, I'm not going to be able to show anything here because of certain snoopers but I might aim for some detailed photos that don't really show the thing. If you see what I mean.

Boy, that machine is going to be smokin'!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Denim goodness

So, exactly how many quilts can one person have on the go at any one time?! I've made this shift from doing reasonable quick one off projects (bags, ipad covers etc) to now having lots of really long term projects (3 quilts to date). I really should be getting on with the old Christmas present making (we have a mahoosive family and due to lack of funds we're on the make instead of buying anything). But I just can't stop cutting strips of material and sewing them together! My Gee's Bend tribute is coming on nicely and I've had some jean donations from all sorts of people (thank you, all). I love the freedom of just randomly sewing stuff together and not giving a monkies how it will all fit.

The beginnings of my denim quilt
And despite being somewhat biased I think it looks awesome - the textures and different tones of blue, the random shapes. I need to think of something to back it with - something very cuddly and soft to balance the workweary nature of denim. I reckon I'm a quarter of the way through, so if anyone has any spare jeans send 'em my way!

The beginnings of my denim quilt

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Getting obsessed with velvet

These days if I have time to myself, I mooch around fabric shops, touching everything and generally perving out on luscious colours and textures. I spend quite a bit of time doing such things in Berwick Street, so really I should don a mac to fit in with the locals! Anyhoo, I had been thinking about velvet quite a lot as this month's cover of Elle Deco has some sort of quilt type thing casually flung over an exquisite chair - it looks like there is plenty of velvet used. So I was thinking about where one might be able to buy velvet in lots of colours. I walked into the Cloth House on Berwick Street and the very very first display was this:

Silk Velvet at The Cloth House
Now, you may or may not believe in the power of the mind to summon up your desires, or in guardian angels that lead you towards greater things etc, but I ask you. I felt a bit spooked. I think I stood there for half an hour looking at the lovely colours and trying to work out what colours I would use. But look at that photo again and I dare you to disagree that the collection of colours on each shelf would make a perfect quilt in their own right. I then found out that it costs £28/metre. And I stood there a bit longer biting my nails trying to work out if I could afford any (I couldn't). And so I wait impatiently for pay day. I hope it's all still there. I think my angel would want that to be so.

I'm not mad for shoes

But I am mad for sewing. I went to see the new Shoe Galleries at Selfridges last week and was blown away by the sheer scale of the place. It all feels very opulent and a bit wierd given that we're all struggling to make ends meet. However, it was jam packed with ladies buying insanely priced shoes. Not the kind of place for me, but if you're into shoes, no doubt a mecca of sorts. What I did like however, were the window displays - functional everyday items turned into shoes, and this puppy caught my eye:

Sewing machine shoe at Selfridges
Ridiculous, good fun and it stopped me in my tracks. Now I'd buy a pair of those.

A very supportive family

I am fortunate enough to have a cracking family. We all have our own malfunctions and what have you but I dare you to show me a family that hasn't! They are supportive of all this mad sewing stuff and as such, have been known to pop by this blog from time to time. Hello there Mum, Georgie, Lucy, Emma, Gill! Whilst this is lovely, it means at certain key times I can't post here, because they then know what they're getting for their birthdays! So here is Gill's birthday shopper, made some time ago but now ready to see the light of day.

Gillian's birthday bag

I used three different upholstery weight fabrics on the outside (the black is LUSH) and the grosgrain is VV Rouleaux. You can't really see on the photo but the lining is a lovely Liberty print. Made my first zip pocket inside. I think it could have done with a solid bottom (couldn't we all), but you live and learn :-) Happy birthday Gill!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Gee's Bend

Oh my lord. This is it. This is what I've been looking for. After some random googling in a quiet moment I found the Gee's Bend quilts. They are a-mazing and just the sort of inspiration I've been after without knowing it. And I thought, "Oooh they're so modern and fresh." And it turns out they originated in Alabama around the ending of the slave trade - jaw drops to the ground - and it made me so much more respectful of why quilting exists. Born out of need and necessity, using only the materials available and not out of a "desire to be crafty" with access to a million types of cotton. I feel released from the pressures of perfection - straightness of lines, rightness of material choices. And I am going to use only what I have I. And so I am going to remember why I am so lucky to be able to make the choice to quilt, or not to quilt. And of course, I was wondering a bit why these quilts resonate with me so strongly and I remembered what I was up to at the beginning of the year when I was just playing around with fabric:

I'm making material. Sort of.

So there we are - I was Gee's Bend-ing without even knowing it :-)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Drawing with the sewing machine

Thought I'd have a little go at making some birthday cards - first one ready! Maybe 300gsm card is a little on the heavy side but my machine coped OK; I hadn't really planned it and just went for it, but love the simplicity of it. The curves of the leaves were a bit stressful, but I'm definitely going to make some more. Too much fun :-)

Button birthday card

Friday, 24 September 2010

Such a labour of love

I began sewing all my strips of material the other day and have now made 9 blocks for the quilt (bit of a rubbish photo, alas but you get the idea).

The beginnings of my first quilt
It is becoming an interesting experiment for me as I wrestle with colour and pattern combinations - I think some blocks are working better than others, and maybe some materials aren't working at all. (The swirling turquoise jobby really isn't doing it for me). It's looking 'OK' but not making me wee myself with excitement. Did I choose the right colours? Is my palette too broad? Are the pattern types too extreme? However, I'm loving the actual sewing, and the fact it is coming together quite quickly makes for high satisfaction levels. Maybe I'll grow to love it more with time.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Quilting. Snoresville, right?

Yeah that's what I thought. And part of me still does given that most of the quilts I've seen just look a bit, well, beige, to me. Now, don't get me wrong, I am utterly appreciative of the time, effort & skill involved in creating one; I think they are works of art - and I loved the V&A Quilts exhibition, but come on. Don't they all just look a bit old fashioned? So, having told The Magnificent Mum this she thrust some quilting books in my direction, sat me down in her perfect garden with a cup of tea and a slice of ginger cake and forced me to change my mind. I saw these two designs and nearly cried.

Quilt design

Quilt design
Now this is much more like it. I love the heavily graphical nature of these - restricted colour palette, a bit more kick arse than your average quilt. I suspect the one I'm going to do is going to look quite trad when I've finished with it (it is going to be a gift for a special occasion) but I'm defo going to do one for myself that has some balls.

How to triple your sewing stash... one weekend. Go and stay with my Mum! We had a brilliant time mooching around all the local sewing shops in Norfolk when I went to visit this weekend. I want a long term sewing project as well as all the quicky bits and pieces I do, so I'm going to embark on a quilt. Not only did I end up buying my own body weight in fabric, but also a cutting board, rotary cutter thingy, books, and all sorts of haberdashery things "just in case". That'll be beans on toast for the next month for me then.

Fabric stash
And of course, it is so ridiculously picturesque at The Magnificent Mum's that there are an abundance of chichi chairs in her gorgeous garden to photograph the stash on.

The fabric stash on a nice chair in an even nicer garden
Immediately upon my return to Old Londres I got cracking on the rotary cutter and have managed to saw up (technical term) half the material already. Am going to use the "log cabin" technique as it is fairly quick to bring to life apparently. Exciting stuff.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

And the pleats turned into...

...a birthday scarf for The Lovely Step Mum, but then The HusWife got hold of it, decided that it was perfect for him, gave me a bit of a sob story that went along the lines of "You never make me anything and you've been sewing for aaaaages now and if you really loved me you'd let me have it." So his penance for such mischief was to be model for the scarf at least. And then he did unspeakable things with it to ensure that it was indeed, his and his only. Tsk, boys.

A scarf for a lady that The HusWife nicked for himself

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Oh go on then, just one more

Was asked by a friend to make an ipad cover for his wife's 40th birthday - cue lots of searching for the perfect material. I discovered The Silk Society on Berwick Street and bought this beautiful embroidered black silk. Eye wateringly expensive, but so very, very worth it. Teamed with a shocking pink dupion innard and a nice bit of cyan grosgrain and voila. (Apparently) one very happy lady. :-)

A very special birthday ipad cover for a very special @LadyLavish

Monday, 6 September 2010

Messing with material again

I've found myself getting a bit caught up in making finished stuff. Which is all good and fine, but I have been feeling a bit weary with the amount of ipad covers I've finished lately. I realised that all was required was a return to how I was at the beginning of the year - clueless and messing about stitching material in random ways. Thus, a few samples later, and there's a spot of pleating madness going on...

Every which way pleating

...and yes, I think it's going to be finished off into a 'thing' - let's see what it turns into :-)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Into the realms of mass production.

Well, sort of. My day job lovelies commissioned me to make 10 ipad covers, for giving to clients etc. So in a mad whirl of cutting and ironing and pinning and sewing I managed to complete them all before we went on our hols. Just didn't have time to post this before we left. I must try and photograph them properly before they all get given away. I think they've come out rather well :-)

ipad covers for Friday

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A little something for the grannies

Little birthday bags for grannies

What happens when I'm not at home

The trauma of watching my family be on holiday together whilst I cycle off to the (admittedly quite pleasant) grindstone everyday was tempered massively by my return home to this:

My new *permanent* sewing table made by The HusWife and The Son

A lovingly made sewing table by The HusWife and The Son and a place to stash my ever increasing paraphernalia. Ok so the lounge is now somewhat smaller because of it, and I'm chuffed the boys don't mind the sacrifice; but it means no more lugging the machine about the house, no more having to tidy up if I don't want to. Brilliant! Thank you boys x

Friday, 6 August 2010

You've got to love a brand that knows how to please

Ordered a bikini from Selfridges and it arrived almost instantly. Not only that, but I found myself photographing the unboxing (in that slightly nerdy Apple-esque way) because I was so impressed with their attention to detail. First off, this:

Selfridges online delivery packaging

A tiny little Selfridges yellow tab. I nearly wet myself with excitement. Such a lovely playful hint at what I was about to discover. And then this:

Selfridges online delivery packaging - wow

And this:

Selfridges online delivery packaging - fab

And suddenly the £4.95 postage and packaging cost seemed totally worth it. Putting this much effort into a parcel (my parcel), the joyful stickers (Selfridges thinks my choice was a good one!), the layer upon layer of tissue, meant I was all fired up and excited before I even got to the product. B-rilliant. A cracking bit of brand extension. And exactly the reaction I want to foster when I send my stuff to people.

Selfridges online delivery packaging

A different kind of meditation

Making things in singles has been very nice. You know, one thing at a time, enjoying a kind of intimacy with it as you watch it come to life. But now I'm making 10 things at once and so it feels a lot more impersonal in some ways - but I can see the efficiencies of doing it like this. Repeating the same seam/pressing/pinning over and over may mean you can make a whole bunch of things a bit more quickly, but it also sends me into a bit of a zone which I find it altogether very satisfying. Such a virgo.

I think I like the offcuts as much as I like the pattern pieces

Lots and lots of cutting out

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Fortune favours the brave

Bumped into our mate Ju on Wells beach last weekend and she's taking the plunge and opening her own studio/giftshop. She has kindly asked me to make a few bits and pieces to sell which is very exciting, but in the meantime I thought she'd better have a new pencil case. Because darlings, when we start new school we need brand new pencils, rubber and ruler don't we? So this little project got me into the world of fusible fleece lining stuff, and my very first zip. Ahhh, bless.

Anyone starting up a new business needs a new pencil case

Good luck Ju, go get 'em!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

OK, not sewing related but includes ribbon

The lovely granny (Cat) from across the way on my estate was gobsmacked when I said we were growing tomatoes on our little balcony. Thus, we left this on her doorstep this morning as she wasn't in. Hope she's not gone on her hols cos she's going to return to a mouldy cup of goo otherwise. Cute pressie though, no?

A gift for Cat, our neighbour, who is mightily impressed with the tomato growing efforts