Feeling Guilty

Forgive me dear bloggers, for I have neglected to post for two weeks now.  I have given myself over to the pleasures of sewing bags, embroidering sheep, quilting crowns, playing with clay and stamps and sneezing over lavender bags.  I have not thanked Jeyco at I’m liking it! for sending me the most fantastic stuff via the One cool thing / One strange thing swap initiated by TJ at the Perfect Nose.  I didn’t send out my parcel to the fabulous (and to me, slightly intimidating) Oonaballoona until this Monday.  Forgive me, for I have been distracted.

Embroidered sheep cushions, French Knot heaven... or was it Hell?
Quilted, appliqued crown pincushions

For my penance I promise to refocus.  I will make a proper start on the pj’s for Karen’s Pyjama Party (only one and a bit weeks left).  Has anyone seen the fab board she has put together on Pinterest??  I will photograph the lovely fabrics sent by Jeyco and maybe propose what will become of them.  I will show you what daughter no 2 and I have been working on. Yes, a bit of pattern cutting has made its way onto the table over the Easter Hols.  Just a bit.  And I will get making the bra I have promised to make for the past year!  There is also a little pile of lovely stretch lace on the corner of my sewing table – inspired by Mary Portas’ Bottom Line, I bought some goodies from Gypsy Lace in Derby – online only.

Lovely stretch lace from Gypsy Lace, Teal, Black, Grey and Silver, and Beige

Like I needed to buy any more fabric???  *sigh*

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.

One Cool Thing, One Strange Thing Swap

You know when you have a clearout, or a chance to re-organise your little stash of fabrics, there is aways something lurking that you just haven’t got round to using yet.  And propably won’t.  It’s not the colour you like anymore, not the right pattern, or often, not enough to really do something with.  The Perfect Nose has the answer, a swap.

But this is not just any swap.  The idea is to swap one cool thing from your stash, with a wierd thing.  I have found a couple of items I just know I am not going to use anymore.  I haven’t the occasion, or time for them anymore, so I have made a little pile.

These are the rules for the swap from the Perfect Nose:

  • Crappy things not allowed.
  • Entries will be accepted until March 31st, 2012 and a list of interested swap contributors drawn up.
  • Each swap contributor will send one cool thing and one strange thing to their nominated swap partner within a month.
  • I will send an extra cool/strange thing combo to three extra people (randomly drawn) from the list (pretty much immediately).
  • If you have more than one cool/strange thing you’d like to send let me know and I’ll see what I can do about pairing you with others interested in doing the same.
  • You’re free to add other (nice) things to your contribution if you like.

If you are interested, I suggest you get on over to her site pretty sharp, as the closing date is tomorrow!!  If you are in Oz, get cracking!!  US readers have a little breathing space…

So I have put together a little inspiration board, so as to make sure I get swapped the right sort of stuff.

One Cool thing, One Strange thing Swap inspiration board

I used Gimmebar to put this together.  If you have used Pinterest in the past, this is similar, but there is the option to have private boards – which is not currently in the pipeline for Pinterest.  Also, instead of pinning just images, you can “grab” whole pages, so this includes text.  Quite good for bookmarking pages on the internet, and of course, there is always a link to the original source.  Check it out.

So I hope the person who gets my contribution makes something really cool, and I hope I get something fab in return!

Have a great sewing weekend, I am not going to get any sewing done.  I have an 18th birthday for Daughter no 1 and a Sewing Sunday class.  But I have been stashbusting – if I am allowed to call it that if the fabric I’ve been using is what I bought last week at the NEC…

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

Spring has Sprung

Wow, sunshine!!  Green shoots in the hedges and lambs in the fields – it’s finally Spring here in the UK.  Cue some drastic cleaning out!  Nothing makes you want to clean the windows like that faint flicker of sun trying desperately to get in.  Once started, however, spring cleaning is infectious.  All sorts of areas of the house that thought they were safe have been de-cluttered and de-dusted.  This included the sewing space.  Oh yes, that little monster took a day and a bit to get through.  I found things in boxes I didn’t know I had.  And things I forgot I’d bought.  I am so pleased with my new de-cluttered and re-organised space, I thought I’d share.

Before

So – before was…  yeah, un-inspiring.     Drum roll……..

After
After

Ok, so no great shakes, but it feels so much nicer!  And now I know what is in all those boxes!  I also know what not to buy at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC in Birmingham tomorrow.  No embroidery threads, no fibres, no fabric paint, NO ribbons, no buttons!  That blue and brown swirly patterned box at the bottom next to the chair is packed with ribbons.  The only way to keep it closed is to pile those other boxes on top!  I am also not allowed to buy any vintage patterns.  This is half of what I have…..

Vintage Patterns – half of what I own :s

So what am I allowed to buy?  Interfacing from Gill Arnold.  Anything from Linton Tweed.  And Fabulous Fabric.  And Rosenberg & Son.  And Fabrics Galore.  Get the picture??  😀

On another subject, I finished another cushion yesterday, the cutest!!  Not Jubilee inspired this time.  I had seen a tutorial on Pinterest for French Knot sheep and thought it would look fab on a cushion cover.  I hadn’t anticipated the time involved.  So hours later, here is my finished result.

Spring has Sprung! French Knot Sheep

Now back to “proper sewing”.  I have to finish 2 UFO’s before I’m allowed to start anything new, and I just know that I will want to get cracking on whatever I manage to haul home tomorrow!

The Versatile Blogger Award

Wow.  Just.  Wow.  Now I never in my teeny weeny life expected this project of mine to do anything remotely earth shattering.  Or to have any number of people following it.  It was all just about me getting my little grey cells working they way they should again!  Anyways, turns out Jeyco over at I’m liking it has awarded this little blog the “Versatile Blogger Award”.  Me!  😀  Thank you for even noticing this blog in the very big wide bloggersphere!  It’s quite exciting, that people actually do visit and read my blurb!

Versatile Blogger Award - design from The Perfect Nose

So, according to the rules I have to pass this little number on.  15 unsuspecting bloggers are in line for this, but with this award multiplying 15 times everytime it’s passed on, there is bound to be some overlap, so apologies if I list someone who has it already!!

1.  Thank the person who gave the award and link to that person:

Thank you again Jeyco, I am honoured that you stop by and like what you see and read.

2.  Add the Versatile Blogger Badge to your website:

3.  List the rules.

4.  List 7 things about yourself:

  • I love sewing. (bet you didn’t see that one coming!)
  • I cannot function without music.  Music is definitely food for the soul.
  • I have two of the same sewing machine.  Seriously.  They are Bernina 830 Records, from the early 1970’s.  I inherited my first one from my late mother-in-law 15 years ago.  The second I bought from my good friend who emmigrated back to the US and couldn’t take her baby with her.  Win for me!  They are fabulous machines.  I also have 2 overlockers, a Bernina 5 reel and a Janome.  Nedless to say I use the Janome more – it has fewer hangups.
  • My mum taught me to sew.  Teachers at school tried but failed miserably.  It wasn’t until I left home that I realised that cooking and sewing were not only necessary skills, but could also be very rewarding!
  • I love books.  Fiction books, cook books, sewing and fashion books.  There are always at least 3-4 books piled next to my bed to read, nevermind I am so knackered by bedtime I hardly get to read any of them!  School pick up time is the best time to read, provided I get there early.
  • I love seeing the people I have taught get excited about their projects, both those in progress and the finished items.  I love the satisfaction they get when they realise they’ve made something, and that it looks great!
  • I have every issue of the Burdastyle magazine from January 1993.  If you ever need anything….  ;p

5.  Pass the award on to 15 dedicated blogs.

This could be tricky.  I really haven’t been blogging for that long…

6.  Let them know about the award.  Comments on the way!  These blogs are all cool and interesting to me, I hope some of them prove inspiring to others too!

Phew!  This has taken so long to get together!  Now enough of the typing, back to sewing!!  😀

Crowns for a Queen.

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These have turned out so cute, I have to share them early!  Still have another couple to make, but here is a glimpse at a couple of pretty cushions I have made with inspiration from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year.  The main fabric is Irish linen, which I love.  The crowns are pink batik, free machined onto the linen.  Both measure 30x30cm.  I do hope to sell them quickly so I have space to do the other stuff I need to do!

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One more for your viewing pleasure!  And an update, all 3 cushions have been sold to kate at Ivy Heart in Shipston on Stour.  From the way she reacted to them I seriously doubt they will be in the shop!  They will have found their way to her house by this evening!  😀

Large Crown applique with vermicelli and pebble quilting stitches for colour and texture
Detail of the stitching.