Monday, 11 August 2014

Bag It Up

Look what I made!
I first saw textile artist and embroiderer Alex Waylett at Textiles in Focus a few years ago.  She was demonstrating a machine embroidery technique, which she then went on to make into beautiful clutch bags.   I knew she did classes and I was keen to go, but they were always a bit far away, or I just couldn't make it. So, when I saw that she was teaching an "Embroidered Clutch Bag" workshop at the Embroiderer's Guild Summer School this year - I immediately booked onto the weekend, and into her class.  

We arrived at Belsey Bridge in Suffolk on Friday evening, and started by selecting fabrics in our chosen colourways from the two tonnes of fabric that Alex brought with her -  we only had to take our machines and threads, everything else was supplied, what a bonus! 

The next day we layered and pinned the fabrics, and then spent most of the day wildly machining to make beautifully coloured and textured fabric for the bags.
On Sunday we cut the fabric to shape, and made up the linings
Then, with a lot of advice, assistance and helpful tips from Alex, we glued the finished fabric bags into a metal frame.
Every single bag was really beautiful and we were so pleased, we set up a display ....
In fact one of the girls said "I've never been on a workshop where everyone was so delighted and proud of what they'd made".

It was a great weekend - such a joy to spend two whole days stitching with a group of lovely ladies - and to end up with something finished and fabulous.
In fact, our only interruptions were to go and have yet another meal - the food was excellent and consequently I've been to the gym this morning and have embarked on the 5:2 diet again. 

So, if you fancy making a yourself a bag - have a look at Alex's website and book onto one of her courses.
I happen to know that she's going to be teaching at Art Van Go sometime soon so keep an eye on their website -  I might see you there. You can never have too many bags.

Bag It Up - Oasis

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Record Store

This Saturday, 2nd August, will find me and some friends stitching  in David's Recordstore and Bookshop in Letchworth  as part of the Embroiderer's Guild National Day of Stitch.  It's the second year that the Guild have organised this national event as a way of promoting the Guild and its activities.

To quote the Chair of our branch, Gina (aka Fan My Flame) -
"We are taking part to raise awareness of who we are and what we do, and hopefully to attract more members.  We feel that some people might be put off by the name 'Guild' and believe you have to be an expert to join us, but we cater for all levels of stitcher, from absolute beginner up to professional, and for all types of stitch from embroidery and dressmaking to knitting and crochet, as well as every type of textile art you can imagine.

David's Music and Bookshop very kindly agreed to let us stitch in their cafe from 10am where we will be stitching (I hope they've bought in extra cake) and handing out kits to make flower brooches, along with an invitation to come along to our meeting in September to make up the kits.
And when they're finished, they'll look like this .....
So, if you stitch, or if you've ever wanted to stitch and you are anywhere near Letchworth - come along to David's on Saturday and say Hello.  We're very friendly xx

The Record Store - The Brunettes

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Lincolnshire Poacher

Been too busy gardening to sit indoors and blog - except for the days it was raining and then I was too busy sewing.  This is one of my recent makes - the pattern is from the July Prima magazine.  I subscribe to it, so I get the pattern sent out with the magazine, which comes a day or two before it's in the shops.
As soon as I saw it I knew that not only did I want to make it, I wanted THAT fabric.
I rang the shop that was shown as a stockist for the fabric, and was lucky enough to get the last 2.3 metres they had.  
The fabric arrived in a couple of days, and by that time I had already traced the pattern, and made a toile, so I was already to go.  Here's my version
I'm really pleased with it, the bodice has princess seams, which I think I prefer to darts, with a flared skirt, rather than gathers.  I tried to find a red belt to match, but in the end I I made my own with the last remaining bit of fabric, some fold-over interfacing, and a vintage green buckle.
I'm laughing because my friend/photographer told me to click my red heels together, and I did - but it doesn't quite come across in a photograph.
I wore the dress on Wednesday for the Homecoming Parade of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment  who marched through Hertford following their return from Afghanistan.
They looked very smart, very young and just a tiny bit warm

Apparently the Battalion are know as 'the Poachers' hence this guy ...
There was a really good turn out in the town, with lots of cheering, clapping and flag waving, which is the very least these brave young men deserve.

Oh, and to prove that I've been gardening - look at my produce.  This was collected on Thursday
and this was picked about an hour ago
A combination of torrential rain and hot sunshine seems to be doing the trick.  The blueberries possibly leave a bit to be desired, but the courgette - yes, that is a courgette and not a marrow - has more than made up for them.

The Lincolnshire Poacher - The Regimental Band and Corps of Drums and 2nd Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Girls In Their Summer Dresses

I've just got back from a lovely week in Lyme Regis, the highlight of which (and the purpose of the trip, to be honest) was a two-day dressmaking workshop at the weekend with Caroline at SewLaDiDa.  I had first seen Caroline - and her wonderful patterns - at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally last year. Aware of the current interest in dressmaking, particularly using vintage patterns, but equally aware of the fact that they are not really cut to fit today's woman, Caroline has produced her own range of vintage-styled patterns.  Not only that, but on chatting to her I discovered that she was going to be running workshops to make these vintage-styled frocks. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to book.

The classes were held in the Town Mill, a lovely old building in The Artisans' Quarter of the town.  
We didn't have to take anything with us, and although I did take several lengths of fabric to make my dress, needless to say, when I saw the selection of fabric available in the SewLaDiDa shop in the adjoining building, I was compelled to buy more.  I choose something age-appropriate and sensible, obviously - a snazzy leopard print fabric, overprinted with big cerise,yellow and turquoise flowers.
There were seven of us, of varying ages, abilities and experience in dressmaking, and we all chose different styles of dresses.  We checked measurements, made toiles, pinned, stitched and fitted, and then cut out the perfected pattern in the 'real fabric'. With assistance, encouragement and advice from Caroline, not to mention her 'Top Tips', we all had a lovely new frock to show for it. 
This morning, I tried using the self-timer on my camera to show you a close-up of my dress - but the photos turned out a bit blurry ......
So then I tried photographing my reflection in the mirror

In the end, I decided it was easier to wear the dress to our Young Embroiderers' meeting today and I got my friend Gina to take some pictures in the garden, shortly before the rain came.

Gina climbed on a chair to perfect her 'David Bailey' techniques, and I was channelling my inner Victoria Beckham.  
Not so as you'd notice. 

The Girls In Their Summer Dresses - The Airborne Toxic Event

Saturday, 7 June 2014

I'm Not Like Everybody Else

It's been a while - I've been away and done a few lovely workshops, but I'll have to tell you about those another time.  However, I was prompted to write this post, having read Gina's Brush with Celebrity story HERE.  
About a month or so ago I went to see Sunny Afternoon at the Hampstead Theatre.  

Of course, I realise that I'm a bit biased.  I was a Kinks fan from the beginning - they were the first band I ever went to see when I was sixteen - at Boscombe near Bournemouth, and Ray Davies has remained my all time musical hero ever since. 
As indeed I told him a couple of days before Christmas a few years ago when I happened to bump into him in the gift department of John Lewis at Brent Cross. I actually said "Oh goodness it's my hero!"  He smiled and asked if I'd got everything I was looking for and I said "Well, I have now".  Pathetic, isn't it?
Over the years I've seen him lots of times - with the Kinks, performing solo, and with the Crouch End Festival Chorus.  I even braved camping and hideous portaloos to see him at Glastonbury in 2009, so when I read about this show, I was always going to go. I went with my mate Jan on the second night, and it was absolutely fab- the cast were superb - great actors and performers - they played all the instruments themselves and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.  It received justifiably brilliant reviews and when I got home, I immediately booked a ticket for the last night (there were only single tickets left, but I didn't mind going on my own and I got a seat in the third row from the stage).

On the day I was due to go, I was at a stitching workshop during the day, and I joking said to my mates "I expect Ray will be there tonight as it's the last performance" and they all nodded and smiled in the way that you do when you are humouring a delusional friend.
I decided to drive to Stanmore Station and get the tube.  What I hadn't bargained for was the fact that there was some 'important'  football match on at Wembley that day (sorry - no further details, in the event that any of you are even mildly interested), so the traffic was horrendous. THEN, when I got to the car park the whole world and his football-mad son was leaving Stanmore Station.  Turns out, there's only one way in and out of the station car park, and it's really only designed for one car width, so it wasn't looking promising.  To confirm this, a bloke at the top said "You'll never get down there love, everyone's queuing to get out."  I smiled and said "Really?  Watch me!"  
I gradually forced my way down against the flood of cars getting out, and everyone was moving over as far to the left as they could, without actually graunching their car along the fence - I guess they could see I was a woman on a mission.  Anyway, I eventually arrived in the car park, got parked, ran to the tube and got my ticket and got the train.  By this time I was really pushed for time, and kept glancing at my watch and counting down the stations to Swiss Cottage.  I really began to doubt that I'd get there in time for the start and worried that they wouldn't then let me in until the interval. 
As luck would have it, I got there - literally - with one minute to spare.  I swapped my printed email for my ticket and programme and ran into the theatre.  I handed the ticket to the girl on the door and said "I really didn't think I was was going to make it - the journey was a nightmare!"  A male voice to my left said "Yeah, tell me about it!"  I turned - and it was RAY DAVIES!!  
I would LOVE to be able to tell you that I told him that I was his biggest fan, or that this was the second time I'd seen Sunny Afternoon because it had been so bloody brilliant the first time, or even that I'd politely asked him to sign my programme.  But no.  I just looked at him, said "Oh, Hello!" and he said "Hello!" back.  Then I took my seat.  
For the rest of my life I will think of all the clever, intelligent, meaningful things I could have said. 
If ever I see him again - I'm going to have a speech prepared. 
PS -  I just searched and I think this was the gig I went to -
Imagine that - under a quid to see the best band in the world!

PPS - When I went to the bar in the interval to get a coffee, I found myself standing next to Paul Weller, but this paled into insignificance against Ray, I'm afraid.

I'm Not Like Everybody Else - The Kinks (but I think you knew that)

Saturday, 10 May 2014


I've made my first COCO ....
There are so many gorgeous versions of this dress out there - check them out HERE
I was particularly taken with this one 
Consequently, I ordered some Black and White Dogtooth Ponte Roma fabric from Minerva Crafts here . It's a lovely weight of fabric for this project - just the right amount of 'guts' (technical sewing term).  In fact the whole project went like a dream, no alterations to the pattern, apart from adding a few inches to the bottom (a concession to my height and age).  I wasn't sure which neckline I was going to do or whether I wanted pockets, but I cut the collar and the pockets out anyway.
I decided to go for the turtle neck, but the jury is still out on the pockets.  Anyway, after just a couple of hours sewing yesterday, I wore it today (pocketless) and I love it.  
Unfortunately, I forgot to get anyone to take a photo while I was out today, so I've had to resort to balancing my camera on the bookshelf and set the timer, hence the expression. 
I feel enough of an idiot posing on my own in my lounge, without smiling at a non-existent photographer.

CO-CO - Sweet

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Glitter and Gold

I've had a lovely week - on Thursday I went on a workshop at Art Van Go with Angie Hughes, entitled "Inspired by Klimt"  - plenty of opportunity for a bit of glitz and glitter there.  Angie showed us what we could create using velvets, silks, bondaweb, transfoils and sweetie papers (and there's always plenty of those in my house, as you know) plus a bit of added glitter and sparkle.
After lunch, when we had created our background, we began the free machine embroidery - and everyone had some beautiful pieces to continue stitching into at home.

The next two are mine - I seem to have moved from little hearts to little houses ..
Oh tell a lie, the hearts are still there ...
A lovely workshop - AND I got to wear one of my exhibition pieces -
Glitter and Gold - The Turtles