While I am waiting…

It seems Royal Mail had plans for me.  The sample order for the giraffe print was sent off to Ditto Fabrics last Thursday, first class.  Ditto got it yesterday!  They have popped the samples all in the post already today, but chances are it could take another week (with a first class SSAE) to get back to me!  I do object paying for a certain service, and then getting a sub-standard one!  In addition, my lavender is late, ribbons had to be fast tracked, and everything is just going to pot this week!

So I decided to keep busy I’d make a start on an up-cycling project.  Friends of mine own a coffee roasting business in Stratford on Avon.  They donated a pile of their coffee sacks to me last week.  Their coffee beans come from the monsoon areas of the world, hence their name:  Monsoon Estates.  This is where the jungly bit comes in.  In a bit of a nod to the antics going on for Jungle January, and until the postman brings me my sample – (deep breaths…) I have chopped up some of the large sacks they get their beans in.  Cleverly I didn’t take any “before” pics.  I can say though that hessian bags like these are hard on the scissors!  You have to put some serious welly into the cutting motion too, so my hands were a little sore after all the chopping.

Another tip.  Domestic overlockers do not like industrial-weight hessian.  My threads kept snapping, but I have persevered!  In an attempt not to put too much “new” into the bags I am going to finish them off with as much as I can find in my stash boxes, but I know I need proper webbing for the handles.  So here’s a couple of iffy (crappy) pics from my phone.  Husband has the camera today, and my Nokia’s camera is not the best on the planet.

Coffee tote bags in progress
Coffee tote bags in progress

and another:

Some of the tote bags made from hessian coffee bean sacks.
Some of the tote bags made from hessian coffee bean sacks.

So that’s the state of the totes so far.  I still need to put handles on them all, and I have found some black and red wide bias binding in my trimmings box to cover the rough nasty edges.  Hope to finish them all tonight!  😀

In other news, I have finished the pattern for the grey herringbone twill, it’s just awaiting a toile and fitting.  With Daughter No1 firmly ensconsed back at Uni I will have to make a trip with the toile.  Hopefully by then I have finished the pattern for the 60’s coat and got my giraffe print so I can pop into Fancy Silks and grab a yummy lining while I’m in Birmingham.  Might as well…  ;p

Jungle January!!!

Well here it is, January 2013.  Some said we wouldn’t make it to Christmas, but what did the Mayans know??  Happy New Year everybody!  I guess I should be listing my “new” resolutions, going over the good and bad makes of the past year, but that will have to wait until later.  The news of the day is definitely Pretty Grievances‘ Jungle January.

Dangerously Stylish!
Dangerously Stylish!

The idea is simply to make something ravishing with an animal print fabric.  Now generally I don’t do animal print, and almost certainly not fur, the stuff gets everywhere!  I wanted to join in, but wasn’t sure what to do exactly.  Cue a browse on Ditto Fabrics‘ website.  I found this:

Giraffe print!
Giraffe print!

Now I can see a sort of 60’s style cropped swing-coat for Daughter no 2 here, think turquoise lining, or emerald, or even fucshia pink!  I have ordered a sample, which should arrive pretty pronto, knowing the service from Ditto.  I really hope it’s not too fluffy, because I think this could really work!  😀

Look out January, the animals are on the loose!

Derby Day

No, don’t panic!  It wasn’t the ponies!

Derby – Iron Gate with the Cathedral at the end of the road

Husband is working on a job in Derby, and as it’s the Easter holidays this week I thought it would be a good time for a little road-trip.  Husband went off for his meetings and Daughters 1,2 and I did some sightseeing and shopping.  Catherine Daze had been to Derby a few weeks ago, and had kindly posted the whereabouts of some fabric stores, so I made a list and planned the attack while having a quick “wake-me-up” cuppa at the cafe at The Quad, opposite the Assembly Rooms.

Derby town map

First stop for me was going to be Ink & Thread.  Husband had found the shop a few weeks back.  They stock only British-made stuff, quirky and with a retro twist.  They are to be found at no 28 The Strand.  They are well worth a look, they stock cards, gift wrap, quirky gifts and home furnishings.

The Old Bell Hotel

So to get there we needed to walk down Sadler Gate.  We saw a fabulous old inn, such a shame it is so neglected!  Looking through the old doors you wouldn’t have been wrong to expect to see the Harry Potter cast in there!

A Harry Potter location??

Down near the bottom of Sadler Gate is The Strand Arcade, a covered Victorian Arcade.  Naturally I’m pretty nosey, so we wandered through to see what delights awaited us.  Unfortunately most of the shops are empty, a victim of the economy and the rather large shopping centre, Westfields, that was built in Derby a few years ago.  Just as we’re about to give up and return, I spotted this….

It was 10am and they had just opened – serendipity!!  So in we went, ooing and aaahing!  then I noticed the notice – no credit or debit cards, only cash or cheque.  Dang!!  So we left, with the promise to return!  From there we found Ink & Thread, they were just at the end of the arcade, on the left.

Ink & Thread

Everything in Ink & Thread is British made.  The designers are British and the manufacturing processes are done in Britain too.  They have an independent style that is really cool.  Check out their Facebook page, and Twitter too.

We popped into the Art Museum and Gallery to take in the Joseph Wright exhibition and some of the history of Derby, then wandered off to find Hook & Eye on Albert St.  Catherine had mentioned it had a pretty good stock of haberdashery, and she wasn’t far wrong!  They had stacks of buttons, buckles, all sorts of elastics and miles of ribbons.  We also found some peacock feathers for Daughter no 2 for her prom dress – success!

Daughters 1&2 in Primani

Time for lunch, but on the way to Nando’s the girls spotted Primark….  The death knell to properly made clothes!!  It was the busiest shop I’d seen all morning – how sad is that!  Look at that basket – loaded with cheap t-shirts and shoes for £3 a pair.

Husband joined us for lunch and had the rest of the afternoon off, so we headed back to the arcade, and Tatler’s Fabrics!  Pam Austin is the owner, and the store has been there for 20 years!  They haven’t got a website, don’t seem to do email either, but she says she’s happy to send out samples if you phone.  The shop itself is pretty small, but there are lots of quality fabrics on the shelves, and at pretty good prices too.  Upstairs is a small workshop, where Pam runs sewing classes.  She limits the class to 5, and they are usually fully booked.  If you are interested in a class, pop in or call to leave your details.

Inside Tatler’s Fabrics, 2 The Strand Arcade, Derby
You can sit and browse the pattern catalogues, Tatler’s stock Burda and New Look patterns, so you can go home with fabric and pattern.
Cottons, viscose jerseys, linens and wools, colour co-ordinated and very well priced
Husband was very patient…

And so this is what I escaped with:

from left to right: 1.5m cotton and elastene grey twill, 1.2m red and white cotton sateen, 1.5m grey striped viscose jersey, 1.5m green and cream spot cotton, 3m cobalt blue and ecru floral print viscose. Heaven in a bag!

Now I just need to make it all up!  As I type, the twill, jersey, spots and blue florals are drying, the red is being washed on its own!  What to make??  The grey stripe twill will either be a pair of skinnies or a jacket for Daughter no 1, the red cotton is earmarked for a skirt or dress for Daughter no 2, the jersey is mine – I feel another Renfrew coming.  The green is for a top with Peter Pan collar for Daughter no 2 and the blue viscose will make a maxi-dress for Daughter no 1 and a blouse for me!

ps. That viscose is BEAUTIFUL!!  The colour is superb and the handling is fantastic. At first I thought it was a silk, until I checked the label.  An absolute steal at £7.95/m.  Yup, thats all!!  :O  Happy drooling folks, and get yourself off to Derby!

Tatler’s Fabric is at 2 The Strand Arcade, Derby, DE1 1BQ.  Phone 01332 293 853.

Sewing for Pleasure

Yesterday I went to Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC with some students/friends.  The temptation monster was practically roaring at us from our first step inside the halls.  For those of you what haven’t a clue what I’m on about, this exhibition is all for the sewist!  If you are into embroidery, textile art, knitting, stitching and sewing, this one is for you!  Fabrics Galore had a prime site, on the right of the entrance!  And this wasn’t their main stand.

Fabrics Galore, this stand was full of Liberty fabrics at a real steal!

There was so much lovely fabric, I had to walk away, I only had a limited budget and was not about to blow it all on the first stand!  My friend, Laura, did succombe to a length for a pretty top she had designed.  They also had some great fabrics for the Jubilee.  One thing I was desperate to buy quickly was interfacing.  I was down to scratty bits, so I was off to find Gill Arnold to stock up.  Her interfacing really is the bee’s knees.  If you have some time, pop onto her website.  She offers day workshops on various subjects, and what she cannot tell you, you don’t need to know!

Gill Arnold’s stand. Purveyor of fabulous interfacings, and fount of knowledge!

Then we ran into The Rosenberg stand.  This was DANGER in capital letters.  These guys have so much fabric, cottons, linens, jerseys, silks, you name it.  We had a good look and then headed off, we needed time to process!   We also needed to meet the rest of the gang.

A selection of the ex-designer silks at the Rosenberg stand. Only £12/m

Laura and I met up with more of the gang at the main Fabrics Galore stand – of course!  We proceeded to buy shirting, cottons, linen, etc etc!  They guy behind the stand was wearing a fab shirt made from Liberty tana lawn.  It had a print of a weeping willow in it, so pretty!  Then my eye was caught by the Oliver Twists stand, and I had to turn sharply and walk away quickly in the opposite direction!  Their stuff is like sweeties, and I am on a DIET!!

Piles of discounted wool and yarn for the knitters

Luckily I had no problem with this pile, I have no patience for knitting.  If my mum had been with me however, it would have been a different matter altogether.  We kept wandering, buying and mooching.  The Shuttle had a good selection of ex-designer fabrics, embroidered and embellished.  Then we got to the area where the embroiderers and textile artists had their stands.  Risky business!

We saw Dionne Swift finishing up a demonstration on screenprinting.  No-one told me how easy it really was!  She made the whole process look so simple, and here I was thinking I’d never be able to do it at home.  She runs workshops from her studios, so it looks like we’ll need a girly weekend away up north!

Dionne Swift – Textile Artist

By now we’re all pretty pooped, but still happy.  We had fabric, leaflets and most importantly, inspiration!

Two Happy Shoppers
Still hunting for bargains

A great day really, we bumped into old friends and collegues and bought stuff we have no space for.  These three now have enough to keep their Sewing Sundays busy for some time!  So what did I get??  Well……  I actually didn’t buy as much this time as I did last year.  I just couldn’t decide what to get, and I was determined not to go bananas.  I have enough fabric here already!

Clockwise from top: Blue and white floral stretch cotton sateen, grey linen & cotton blend and blue and ecru lightweight cotton. All from Fabrics Galore.

There’s more…..

Top: green and blue shot cotton from M Rosenberg & Son
bottom: white broiderie anglaise with silver shimmer over from The Shuttle

Of course I did manage to get 4m of interfacing before I got all those, phew!  But I leave you with a view of M Rosenberg & son’s stand.  Who could resist??

Rosenberg’s stand