Sunday, 18 December 2011

Good lord woman. What have you been up to?

Alas, things have been quiet in blog land for me. Work work has been mentalist in the run up to Christmas - sort of having to fit 2 weeks into 1 to get everything sorted, so defo running on empty.

However, found some time for a spot of crafting. For our Christmas party at work I got Matthew as my Secret Santa gift recipient. Now Matthew has spent the last month at the office playing LMFAO "I'm sexy and I know it" full screen on his computer, full blast, at least 3 times a day. Sometimes on loop.

So I made him his own outfit:


This is Matthew (on the left):

I did buy us some *special* outfits for the friday towers christmas party.

This is what the dude from LMFAO looks like in his outfit:


Yeah. You do the maths.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Capolana cloth... hanging on my line, drying in the winter sun. Actual capolana cloth from actual Mozambique. I am very excited about this.

Capolana cloth

My Aunt Pru (known henceforth as VAP - Venerable Aunt Prudence) is currently spending a year in Mozambique with VSO, having been given a sabbatical from Amnesty International. She is doing a spot of excellent blogging about her experiences there; I find it a fascinating read, not just because it's by VAP, but because it has real insight and describes a place and culture that is about as far removed from the rich hustle of London.

She wrote a brill piece back in July about Capolana cloth and me being me put in a cheeky request for some samples to play with back here in Londres. And VAP being VAP, she purchased some bits, dispatched them with a friend who was traveling back to the UK, organised for my cousin Omar to go and pick them up, and then got Omar to pop round to deliver them with a cheeky smile. Now that's what I call service!

Capolana cloth

I'm loving the colours and patterns; they are certainly brightening up a dull London winter. It seems a shame to chop them up as they work so well as large pieces, which of course is how they're designed; I'm going to hold onto them for a while and decide what to make with them after we've got to know each other a little better.

Thanks VAP, my dear. You totally rock. xxx

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Designers Makers at Old Spitalfileds Market

Gosh, well, what can I say? A slow old day at Old Spitalfields I tell yee. Having never done a 'normal' market before I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. All raring to go, and having not slept the night before due to excitement/anxiety, my trusty slave labour for the day (Mrs Becci Augur, highlighted goddess, gossip merchant and all round good egg) picked me up early and we hotfooted it down there. It was bleedin' freezin', but we set to with great gusto.

My slave labour

Our stall always looks a little, er, over-egged compared to some of the clean-lined modernist splendour achieved on stalls nearby. I would like to think of it as welcoming and vibrant. Perhaps it just looks a tad rubbish. Hey ho.

Setting up

We met some lovely neighbours, and wiled away the hours catching up on gossip and making the odd sale here and there. I sort of managed to give quite a lot of stock away, in an effort get some good karma flowing around. Eventually, I got a bit grumpy and wanted to leave early but Becci made me stay, and by the packing up time of 5pm, we'd made enough sales to cover the cost of the stall, parking, lunch and a baby sitter for that evening. Not a resounding triumph, but better than nothing. So either my products are wrong, or wrongly priced, or it's the wrong location for me. I have one more go there before Christmas, 17 December, when I'm hoping that people will be panic buying pressies and thus will rid me of my stock. I'm going to drop my (already low) prices, as I have an overwhelming desire to clear the decks before the start of the next year of sewing.

Looking at all my products this weekend made me realise I need to have a good hard think about what direction I want to go in. And I cannot consider any direction while I have boxes of stock sitting under my desk reminding me that they are not sold. So, if you're in the market for a kindle or ipad sleeve, a cute coin purses or indeed a man quilt then give me a shout. I'm open to offers ;-)

In the meantime here are some of the cuties I showed this weekend:

Dupion silk coin purse

Dupion silk coin purse

Klimt style coin purse

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Even urban warriors need tote bags

Don't they? How else are they going to transport their essential warrior items as they warrior their way through town?

Even urban warriors need tote bags

Thought it might be an idea to test some alternative fabric approaches on all my products at my upcoming stall for Designers/Makers at Old Spitalfields Market. Seeing as it's quite the funky hipster spot and all. The HusWife reckons men don't use tote bags. He clearly hasn't been to Hoxton recently, where the skinny-jean wearing, assymetric hairstyle types spend all day long carrying tote bags.

I've only made a few, just to see if they sell, like. If they don't, I'll owe The HusWife a million pounds. Let's hear it for the urban warrior tote bag!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Rummaging in my silky stash ;-)

Finally got my hands on a new kindle (hurrah! for kindly cousin Imran) and so the pattern is perfected! And a rummage through a hitherto un-rummaged through bag produced the loveliest bits of silk; samples from a shop long forgotten - embroidered flowers, and weird quilted silk and every sort of silk in between. So now I have some lovely lux kindle sleeves ready for action!

Silk kindle sleeves

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Maths headache

Do all those technology companies not realise how much pain and anguish they put me through when they release a new product? Well do they? No, I think not. So, Kindle has released its new eReader, which is smaller (but not thinner) than the last, and so I need to give myself maths brain ache to come up with a new pattern. Because my attempts to persuade everyone I know to buy one so I can use it to make a new sleeve prototype have failed thus far - so I'm relying on the dimensions given on the site, my old pattern for the larger size version and my trusty calculator.

Might pop into John Lewis tomorrow and see if I can subtley have a go at popping a Kindle into a prototype...

A bit of a Kindle maths headache

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Has time speeded up or something?

Or maybe I just got a bit side tracked. I have 2 stalls coming up at Old Spitalfields Market. It's all very exciting; one of my favourite markets in London as it's full of vintage stuff, chi-chi bits and pieces, oddities and curiosities and has such a great vibe. And I've only just really clocked how much I need to do. There has been waaay too much "sitting on the sofa watching rubbish" action recently, so time to rev up the old Bernina.

I got a place through Designers Makers, a lovely organisation that helps freelance craft folk peddle their wares, meet the public and get ahead. The Designers Makers market runs every third Saturday of the month, and I have 19 November and 17 December booked.

Best get a wiggle on then. And then you can come and visit my stall and fill me in on what I've been missing on telly ;-)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Knitting and Stitching Show

See how behind I am? It feels like I went to this most awesome of shows about a million years ago, and yet I'm only just getting round to writing about it.

Of course, it wasn't that long ago at all; I went on a girl date to Alexandra Palace with Mrs Becci Augur, stitchin' queen and goddess of all things groovy. She gently eased me through the day as I was suffering a little from an overhang due to green cocktails the night before (see my previous post).

First up, I have to say it was massively inspiring. I discovered new textile artists that have such an architectural quality to their work I am constantly googling them to discover more - I want to be just like them when I grow up. And I made one of my all-time favourite purchases ever.

Where to start? OK ok, I'm starting with the purchase :-) LOOK AT THIS BEAUTY:

Chinese Miao Pleated Apron Skirt

This, my friends, is a Chinese Miao pleated apron skirt. And I'm totally in love with it. I saw it at the beginning of our way around the show and had a great chat with Sally Chang, the stall holder, about all her wares. She sells indigio based fabrics and items from Southern China and Thailand and is just the most lovely woman.

Becci and I wandered off and starting looking at all the other stalls but after about 20 mins I had a sudden rush to the head and knew I had to go back to Sally and make that skirt my own. I am going to get it framed because there is no way I can wear it and retain its pleated glory. (However, I suspect it is going to cost a small fortume to frame, so shall start saving up pronto.)

Chinese Miao Pleated Apron Skirt

How gorgeous? It is hand-dyed, includes lovely batiq elements and small squares of bright red and maroon that have been hand-sewn on to create those lovely flashes of colour.

Chinese Miao Pleated Apron Skirt

And the thing about Sally, not only did she sell me the skirt, she followed up with a lovely letter and print out about my skirt, the traditions behind it, where it was made and so on, which in my book, is the most fabulous customer service. Brilliant.

Then I discovered Chunghie Lee. Wowzers. Becci and I had a difference of opinion on this one as I just totally fell in love with all her work. Photos weren't allowed but I sneaked a few because I was beside myself with desire, and typically, karma (and my slightly DT hands due to overhang) delivered completely blurry photos. Not a single one in focus. So here are some examples from around the internets:

Images from:

I love the architectural quality and delicate nature of the structures. The use of a single colour is so powerful and allows the construction of the piece to be as important as anything else. Totally jaw dropping. I shall be having a think about how I can bring some small element of this into my work.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Double denim

Recently, and for some inexplicable reason, we have been indulging in a spot of fancy dress at the office. Every so often someone will declare, "This week is Happy Cowboys versus Fame!" and thus it comes to pass. (Evidence of my cowboy outfit below. I know. Sorry.)

Today is *Fame* vs *happy cowboy* at friday towers ...

One such call was for 'Double Denim' to celebrate/despair when our dear and esteemed colleague Eliot decided to leave us for a sabbatical. "Double denim. Hmmm." I thought to myself. And naturellement, I came upon the idea to make a denim tie.

I found a simple and most excellent pattern over at The Purl Bee and set to it. Of course, their ties are shown in lovely Liberty print and are all sensible and fabulous, whereas I needed to patchwork together a whole heap of denim first so that I could cut the pattern pieces on the cross.

And after all that patchworking, hand sewing this puppy together required fingers of steel and well-girded loins. But I got there in the end; and with a nice bit of jaunty red and white stripey cotton shirting for the lining I think it has worked out rather well.

Denim tie

Denim tie

Denim tie

Denim tie

And we attempted a photo to prove double denimness, but alas, the glory of the green cocktail was so all consuming that we completely forgot to show my bottom half, which was thoroughly clad in blue denim. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Double Denim in action (although you can't see the second bit of denim because showing the cocktail was more important)

A bit of a before and after

Wowzers, it has been a long time since I've been at the old blog. Sorry for that - life got a bit busy all of a sudden and I got a bit down about the old sewing. Not for any particular reason, but just needed a bit of time away to rest and recuperate I think.

In the meantime, I have been trying to sort out our little flat and have given it the mother of all spring cleans. I'd like to think I'm early rather than late! One job that has been glaring at me for months was to finally get round to transforming an old chair we found on the street. Essentially it's in good nick, but was covered in paint and clearly ready for the bin men to take away.

Chair transformation - Before

The HusWife kindly brought it back home as we needed a chair for the communal desk in the lounge and it seemed to fit the bill. There it has languished unloved for many months. Now it's not really my sort of chair - a bit fussy and oh, that awful orangey varnished wood. But free is free, right? Finally got round to sanding, painting and sanding and painting and now we have a lovely new chair.

Chair transformation - After

We think it looks like it's wearing knee socks. The HusWife now thinks of it as a dead pervy chair. He really should get out more.

Chair transformation - After

We also had an old cushion hanging around that was disgusting, so I recovered it using some lovely linen effect material Mum gave me ages ago. A little Japanese cotton for the envelope binding on the back and voila. The whole project cost nothing as we already had the paint and material. Aces.

Chair transformation - After

Cushion detail

I used to do quite a lot of Frankenstein chair experiments in another life, but got all swayed with the sewing machine. Finishing this project made me want to dig out some of the bits and pieces I made before. For what it's worth, here they are. Please forgive the highly dubious styling and bad focus:

Found chair No.4 reborn poncy photo

Found chair No.2 reborn

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Things to do before you're 40

Gosh. Where to start. A few things: I've watched the sunrise at the top of Mount Sinai. I completed the London marathon in a respectable 4:30. I've swum with a dolphin with no-one else around (apart from Franny). And I've finally conquered zips! Hurrah!

The other thing I've been spouting off about to anyone that'll listen is having my own business by the time I'm 40. Well would you know, it's my 40th birthday tomorrow. And whilst I may not have a thriving business, I'm making a good start. I didn't know how to sew a year and a half ago, and I feel proud that I've got to a point where I feel able to go out into the world and say, "This is my work. I hope you enjoy it." You can find the beginnings of my etsy shop here. I'll be stocking some quilts and further utility items over the next few weeks.

Coin purse

Clutch bag

Kindle sleeve

I'd like to say thank you to everyone that has supported me and told me to go for it. My creative space is buzzing. And it's mostly down to support from this lot over at Our Creative Spaces. Thanks guys ;-)

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Haberdashery and cake? Sign me up!

On a tip off from "Katy Who Knows Literally Everything" at my day job, I wandered down Essex Road, Islington on Friday and found Ray Stitch. A place where pleasant folk hang out, it turns out. Behind the counter, or drinking lattes outside in the morning sunshine, everyone was super cheery and just lovely friendly.

Ray Stitch, Essex Road

And of course, the winning combo of cake and haberdashery cannot be beaten. Thrilled to have another sewing mecca so close to home. However, due to vast quantities of champagne drunk last weekend I am seriously broke, so I couldn't buy anything.

Ray Stitch, Essex Road

Ray Stitch, Essex Road

Ray Stitch, Essex Road

They stock some very lovely organic cottons, a good range of useful haberdashery and the usual Amy whatserface quilting cottons (can take or leave them if I'm prefectly honest) but they also had that very cool sewing utility brand Merchant & Mills.

Merchant & Mills

The packaging is just heavenly. I love the graphic black and white and utility feel. So much craft stuff is girly and twee and this is brilliantly masculine and I was tempted to buy and just display the packaging at home. Alas, that will have to wait until pay day.

The brand came onto my radar just the other day when I stumbled upon Not Another Bill; an excellent idea to have a bit of creative stimulation through your letter box every month. The idea is that you pay £15 a month and get sent something gorgeous. Check it out, past presents have looked amazing. I reckon it would make a lovely gift for someone for 6 months or so. Just lovely.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Exactly what have I been up to?!

Crickey. Nearly a whole month since my last post. But I haven't been slacking - no! I have mostly been sitting in a jacuzzi drinking champagne :-) It will soon be my 40th birthday and I decided that the only way to celebrate was to get my buddies together in the same place for much merriment. We went to a lovely converted barn in Holt Norfolk and spent a long weekend on the beach, in the garden, and in the jacuzzi! Such excellent fun and a massive treat to have everyone together hanging out. B-rilliant.

The barn we were staying in even had my initials on the outside. Wierd.

My initials

There were some fine quilts on the wall, which I meant to photograph properly, but in the end the only evidence of them was this photo - a bit of Daddy daycare:

Daddy daycare

The Magnificent Mum has a beach hut and lent it to us for the day:

Team photo

And of course, The HusWife and Patrice felt utterly compelled to wear my running shorts and do a spot of old fashioned gentleman's athletics:

Showing off

And Becci cooked me a most delicious and chocolately birthday cake:

We heart Jo!

Hurrah! And hurrah again for great times with great friends! Other photos over on flickr

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Feeling proper cream crackered now

Last fair of the summer finally done and dusted! I was lucky enough to get a spot at the Burnham Market Craft Fair, a lovely place in Norfolk. Full of lovely people too it turns out. It was all exceptionally well organised and the weather was glorious all day with just some overcast threat of rain towards the end.

The Staff tweaking my stall at Burnham Market

The Magnificent Mum (just spotted rearranging quilts in the background) had done a great job of whipping up her crowd of friends into a crafting frenzy about the day, and they all popped down, said hello, and bought something.

And Big Sis (with the lovely red accents to the right) did a fine job of being The Helper Of Excellence and Most Fine Wrapper Of Products.

The hot product of the day was Kindle sleeves - oh and small purses, but a new addition of evening bags also did rather well, only the wintry colours left by the end. Note to self: put more summery colours in products for summer fairs!

Evening bags

Evening bags

Scored a couple of commissions and had some very interesting chats about boro cloth (more on that to come) and Gee's Bend and recycling fabric and so on. Brill. Here are some of the quilts Mum and I had readied for the stall - there was a lot of interest in them, but no sales, so perhaps not the right product for a fair.

Denim quilt

Denim quilt

So, thrilled to have done it but glad it's over! Looking forward to getting my online shop sorted in the next few weeks and then getting on with some art sewing. Not sure what direction I'm going to go in, but it's definitely time for experimentation again rather than product making. Excited doesn't go anywhere near expressing how I feel about the coming months :-)