Monday, 23 January 2017

Sewing as Therapy

Every time I get talking to fellow sewists, be it at a sewing event or a local fabric shop, I hear the same refrain, "sewing is my therapy".  As a coping mechanism for physical and mental health problems, challenging life events and the daily ups and downs of life, sewing is a salve to many. For my February column in Sewing World magazine, I interviewed four women who kindly and bravely shared how sewing has helped them.  Although it's a February issue, it's published in January, just after Blue Monday.  Like many, I struggle with January, more so since my father died by suicide just over four years ago.  This year is a big improvement on the last three so there's progress but it's definitely a low time.  I'm OK, just a bit flat and tired.  It will pass and years of experience tells and assures me that, but meanwhile I'll sew on.  A huge thank you to Sarah, Bonnie and Rosa who shared their 'Sewing as Therapy' stories so candidly.




You can find Sewing World magazine  on sale in the usual UK places- WHSmiths, larger supermarkets etc.  Digital issues are available at the Sewing World website



Wednesday, 18 January 2017

January at Village Haberdashery

There's change afoot at Village Haberdashery as Annie is on the brink of moving into her new shop in West Hampstead, you can read about her updates here and admire the stunning decor - Rifle Paper Co lemon wall paper, swoon!  Meanwhile, stock continues to arrive and the existing shop and website are still very much open as usual and it's time for my monthly sponsor visit...




From left to right, row by row.

  1. Frolic, Avila, Sarah York for Cloud9 Fabrics.   Painterly design on cotton batiste which is similar to cotton lawn in feel.  Annie has described this as slightly sheer so you do need to consider lining for some clothing, although it looks like the fabrics gather beautifully.  There are lots of garment pictures to see how it works in the links.
  2. Sleeping Porch, Floral in Purple, Heather Ross for Windham Fabrics. Cotton lawn and perhaps the best purple fabric ever!
  3. Double Gauze Dobby Chambray, Charcoal, by Robert Kaufman.  Lightweight, wide width and a lovely match for the Fielder pattern (see number 5).
  4. Sleeping Porch, Moths in Jade, Heather Ross for Windham.. Cotton lawn.  See the lookbook for this new cotton lawn quilting/clothing fabric range here. 
  5. Merchant & Mills, Fielder Dress Top Pattern.  Based on a traditional sweatshirt shape with raglan sleeves.  I think it always helps to see other people's versions of patterns sewn up and this one of the top option in heavy white linen by Linda of Kettle Yarn Co is a beauty.
  6. Cactus Party on black, Sevenberry.  Cute print on woven cotton.  Also in white.
  7. Desert Bloom, Spring in Maize.  Lovely golden mixer print from this Moda quilting range.
  8. Desert Bloom, Wildflower in Midnight, Sherri and Chelsi for Moda, gorgeous deep inky background on this floral print on quilting cotton. 
  9. Sidewalk, Art Class in white, organic cotton interlock jersey by Rae Hoekstra for Cloud9.  Perfect for children's wear and more.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Travel Outbound Bag: New Pattern from Chase - Quarter inch Mark

I always hope that during the holidays I'll get some time to make some projects that always get squeezed out of my usual schedule.  I enjoy making smaller projects so when Chase asked if I'd like to make her new pattern before it released, I jumped at the chance.  Her latest design is the Travel Outbound Bag.  You can read more about it here and find the link to her PDF pattern and as well as some kits she's put together.  Chase designed it as travel bag not just when journeying across county but also from moving from room to room, a caddy for storing your sewing, books, phone, glasses- whatever your essentials are!

It has two zipper pockets, four outer pockets to slip smaller items into, plus a generous open centre section large enough for books, tablet etc.


I followed her pattern exactly all the way through.  She suggests heavy fusible interfacing.  I only had Shape Flex which is light to medium weight but I used a moderately heavy denim and a linen to compensate on the areas that need heaviness.


Chase's patterns are always very thorough and her writing style is personal and encouraging; it feels like she is talking me through each stage!  She includes tips for any tricky areas and there are lots of photos to support the making process.  Her zip installation process is excellent for those of you who find these a little tricky.


It took me a while.  I'm not an especially fast sewer and I like to take my time and get top stitching and binding just right.


This bag is for a secret swap partner at Threadhouse retreat so I hope it's well received.  I think I need one next to organise books next to the couch!  It's a great caddy and different fabric choices could easily personalise a Travel Outbound Bag for a book obsessive, crossword addict, embroiderer ...  etc. Find all the pattern details here.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Forever Fabric Coming Soon...

There's exciting news from Fiona Pullen founder of The Sewing Directory and author of Craft a Creative Business.  She has a new venture which is just about to launch, a new website for fabric lovers called Forever Fabric.   I had a little sneak peek a couple of months back and like all the best ideas, it's delightfully simple and ideal for sewists everywhere. 


At the heart of  Forever Fabric are previews of the newest fabric collections from your favourite designers.  There will be details on the inspiration behind the collection, pictures of the prints, information on when it will be available to buy as well as links to stockists.  Fiona also has interviews planned with designers such as Katarina Roccella and Elizabeth Olwen, as well as a section on new designers and their first collections.  This will be so much easier than trying to follow lots of different designer accounts, plus all the fabric company blogs and social feeds, everything will be in one place! 
The official launch date is 16th January  but you can already visit www.foreverfabric.com and follow on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the latest news including a big fabric giveaway - 10 Art Gallery Fabrics fat quarter bundles to be won!
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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

January at Eternal Maker: Sale Time!

Anna is having a big clear out at Eternal Maker so I thought I'd have a look through and pick my favourite nine fabrics from the sale.  I don't know how long the bargains will continue but Anna's @eternalmaker_destash is worth following as well as the @eternalmaker Instagram feed for news.

From left to right, row by row:

  1. Love Bugs Collection from Riley Blake.  Get ready for Valentine's Day makes!
  2. Critter Stamp, mustard by Ellen Luckett Baker for Kokka.  Linen cotton blend. 
  3. Happy Dishes Ring a Ling from Ruby Line Sparkle by Melody Miller.  A blast from the past in pre Cotton+ Steel designing days from Melody.  Cotton/linen blend.
  4.  Mousey Mouse, from Catnap by Lizzie House from Andover Fabrics.  Love this print, I've used it on a few projects including most recently my second Simple Sampler quilt here and here.
  5. Penny's Dolls House roll-up by Darlene Zimmerman for Robert Kaufman.  1930s repro prints bargain at £20!
  6. Italian Check in Fawn Pink.  Coating weight fabric in a 80% wool/20% blend.  150cm wide and perfect for coats and jackets.  Dry clean only.
  7. Notepads Type, Julia Rothman for Windham fabrics.  For all the stationery addicts!
  8. Picnic Check Honey Bee from Glamping, Mary Jane butters for Moda.  Glorious sunny large check print!
  9. Paris Paws, Alexander Henry fabrics.  Cute retro cat design.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Year, Old Quilts

My first post of 2017, happy new year!  I've been enjoying some time off, family, food and some quiet sewing.  In late December, my local quilt shop, Exeter Sewing Machine Company hosted a free quilter's event and I thought I'd share the photos.  Shop owner, Jenna, kindly hired these quilts and fragments from The Quilter's Guild and gave a talk adding some of her own resources and knowledge too.  Many of these quilts come with rather limited information.  This first example is a wholecloth quilt, see other examples here.


North Country wholecloth quilt from the 1920s, sewn by Mrs Charles Jane, a miner's wife and methodist from County Durham. 


Late Victorian unfinished hexagon quilt top.  The individual hexagons are approximately ½" along each edge. There's a real mix of textiles, many look like very fine dress fabrics and there were some great examples of fussy cutting.  More info here. 




Small quilt top, probably made from a sampler book.  Victorian. 


Late Victorian unfinished hexagon top.  You can read more about this mysterious quilt top here.  The papers are hugely interesting and help date the quilt.




Log cabin coasters in silks and velvet, Victorian.


Eighteenth century hexagon rosettes, amazing colours. 



All these examples are part of a touring case of quilts and fragments that travel around the country so that quilters in all regions get to see the quilts and fabrics close up.    Information on the Quilter's Guild website does seem rather limited on this but their aim is to promote patchwork, appliqué and quilting so it may be worth looking into if you are part of a local guild or group, or a regular at a local quilting shop - there's an email link to the curator on this page.   Meanwhile, the collections section of the website has lots of amazing images for inspiration and some quilt history, I especially like the Heritage Collection.
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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Sewing Cleo: Tilly and the Buttons Denim Dungaree Dress

 I did have plans for a Christmas dress, a maxi Darling Ranges in cherry printed baby cord Darling Ranges but as  Christmas got closer and I was tired from work, another plan snuck in and I am so glad it did.  I placed an order for a Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress and and a dungaree clips/button set and within a couple of days everything arrived, I'd traced it, cut it and sewn it.









It's a dream of a pattern.  I didn't make a toile, I just compared my measurements with the pattern and size 3 (equivalent to size 10 was the closest fit.  I'm pear shaped so I let my hip measurements lead the sizing as my chest is a size 2 but I knew this had to go over my head - the straps are the only opening and my waist and hip are closer to size 3.  Otherwise, no alterations, just the addition of larger patch pockets to the front.  My patches are the same width as the bib pocket.  It's a simple make and the instructions are beautifully done.  The layout is straightforward, accurate and economic.  If you are a confident sewer, you can enjoy the easy construction and luxuriate in the top stitching possibilities.   If you are a beginner, it's a satisfying project without too much to challenge you - turning the straps out is the hardest process.  I used Gutermann topstitching thread from the jeans/denim set with standard sew-all in the bobbin.   The fabric was a carboot sale bargain I picked up a few years back.  It's an easy fit, perfect for Christmas consumption and I like the length front and split.  It's practical and not too cutesy for a 40 something woman to wear.    You can read more about the Cleo pattern on Tilly's website and buy the pattern as a PDF as well as printed.


My Christmas prep is largely finished, I sung my last session at my day job today and squeezed in a beach walk with Lottie.  The sky was a gorgeous blue for the first time in days.  



I'm ready to rest and enjoy time at home . These few days before festivities start in earnest are my favourite.  Whatever you are doing,  I wish you peace and happiness, in the little things as well as the big.