Sunday, 1 December 2013

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

From a personal point of view I have always felt that Christmas should start around 2 weeks before the 25th December.  I hate seeing mince pies for sale in October and avoid looking at Christmas Decorations until I have to admit defeat in early December.  Where other children wanted to open their presents before the big day I was horrified at the thought and although I am now grown up I would never peak, shake or rip the wrapping paper!

 However as a seller I have learnt that I have to embrace the festive season a lot earlier.  Last year I was a bit late in getting my Christmas Stockings online so this year I had to be more organised. 

Some sellers have had their Christmas ranges up for sale since October but I opted for a mid-November launch to tie in with CRAFTfest, a online craft fair.  This has hopefully given enough time for sales but is not too early for the magic to run out!

So having launched my new range of Mini Christmas Stockings at CRAFTfest they are now available from my Folksy shop. 

This year I found a great range of new retro fabrics as well as some of my favourite fabrics from last year. 

I have also included some individual gingham designs for those who like to be more traditional.

Although I hope I have good sales this year lets hope there are a few left so I can use them to decorate my own home!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Flower Brooches

I just had to share these!

As part of the Folksy Summer School goodie bag there was a pack of small fabric squares, samples from Ray-Stitch of their lovely range of plain cotton.

It was such lovely material but was too small for patchwork but was just the right size to make petals for a brooch.  

Each square was trimmed, making it into a quarter circle.  I then stitched the two straight edges of each quarter to make a cone.  

Flattening the cone so the seam was at the back I stitched along the open edge in a small running stitch, adding six more petals in a continuous chain.  

When the running stitch was pulled it gathered the cones into petal shapes, I then stitched each end together making a circle and glued it onto a brooch back.

Looking for inspiration for something to fill the centre I looked through my scrap bag and found some left over bobble trim.  I cut the pom-poms off and then mixed and matched them with each brooch and glued them into place.   

I won't be selling these, some may become presents but I have a feeling I will be wearing these myself! 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Laura Ashley 60th Anniversary

I have always loved Laura Ashley and have used their fabric throughout the years.  So when I found out that as part of their 60th Anniversary they were reintroducing some of their old patterns it made me quite nostalgic. 

My first memory of their fabric was as a teenager in the 1970s, I loved their dresses but could not afford them.  So when I bought two of their milkmaid style smocks in a charity shop I thought I was so cool!  And although that was a great summer I am happy to say there is no photographic evidence!

When I got my first home in the 1980s I went to town.  I made loose covers for my sofa in Mr Jones, made curtains and bedspreads in Louise for the spare room and had blue trellis and red rose bud wallpaper in my bedroom.  I have never seen this wallpaper since and I have not been able to find out what it was called, any ideas?

In the 1990s they were still producing beautiful floral prints and when I moved house again I found myself going back to Laura Ashley.  I made curtains in Somerton and had a lampshade and cushions in Tulip.  I also made beautiful curtains using Beeton (Chambray) and managed to get matching oil cloth so that completed the dining room.

I have also used their wallpaper borders over the years as they were a quick and cheap way to bring colour without the cost of wallpaper.  I still collect vintage rolls when I see them, I would no longer use them on a wall but have some vague idea there must be a decoupage type use for them, any suggestions are welcomed!

In recent years the patterns have not had the same attraction for me the exception being the gorgeous Holiday floral pattern which I only found after they stopped doing it.  However good old eBay came to the rescue and allowed me to get some cushion covers and fabric.  I also love Bunched Roses which I still use in my kitchen having collected an apron, oven glove, seat cushions and table mats!

I still have a lot of my collection and continue to collect Laura Ashley vintage fabric which I now use in my makes.  

But sometimes I cannot resist a vintage cushion cover, piece of Alice china or of course a wallpaper border! 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Autumn or Not

Coming from the north of Scotland and always being a wishful thinker I have classified September as part of the summer.   When others have donned their duffel coats and furry boots I have continued to go coatless and sockless for as long as possible.

I have often been rewarded with good weather and this year was no exception with a trip to Perthshire that demanded that coats and brollies were left in the car! 

However on returning to Derbyshire I was met with rain and mist and autumn seemed to have sneaked up on me.  And my poor garden was looking rather brown and sorry for its self. 

However one bright spot was my favourite clematis which was still flowering its socks off.  It’s colour is so intense, a lovely iridescent purple which never fails come sun or rain, unfortunately photos do not do it justice.  

So this inspired me in my next make.  I was already looking for something small and low cost for my next craft fair as well as something that would appeal to adults and youngsters so why not have a go at making flower brooches?

I wanted something that had the long petals of the clematis but was not too fussy.  I also liked the idea of crochet but still being a beginner I had to keep it simple.  So after a bit of trial and error I came up with a design that combined gingham petals and a crocheted and gingham button centre, stitched with embroidery thread.   

I have now made quite a few and the crochet continues to vary on each one, which I hope gives them charm as well as making each one unique, roll on the next Craft Fair!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

My First Craft Fair

I attended my first Craft Fair as a seller last Thursday and it was a great success!  Yes I made a modest profit after expenses but the main enjoyment was meeting the public and other sellers. 

It was a Craft and Gift Fair and held in an old wooden Scout Hut which was rather charming.  It had a good mix of sellers ranging from wildlife photography, vintage jewellery to knitting plus a very nice cake stall (at last someone that does proper Tiffin)!

I was given a corner with two tables which threw me a little as I had planned my layout on only having one; thank goodness I had taken along plenty of tablecloths with me.  Luckily I had plenty of time to rethink my display so it all worked out in the end.  I was also given a chair (which was comfy thank goodness) and had a nice little corner at the end of my table that allowed me to sit and do my crochet during the quiet times.

The Fair was in held in Bakewell a beautiful historic town in Derbyshire that is on the tourist trail.  So a lot of the people that attended were holidaymakers (with children) who had not planned to come along and nor were they looking for anything specific.  Luckily I had lower price items such as my Hedgehog Pin Cushions which proved popular to browsers, adult and children alike.  This highlighted that if I am going to attend further fairs in the future I need to have a wider range of lower priced items, some being attractive to children.   

I also got a lot of positive feedback, as people remembered their grandmother’s embroidered tablecloths and thought it lovely that someone was doing something with them rather than leaving them in a cupboard.   This gave me the opportunity to explain how I had got started and although they often did not buy anything they did take away leaflets and business cards and will hopefully pass these on to friends and family.   

It was hard work and the preparation for such an event must not be underestimated and although I thought I was organised everything took twice as long as expected.   For example I normally only print out labels etc as and when I make an online sale but suddenly I had to do this for 30 or so items plus I needed additional material such as price tickets and carrier bags.

Also you have to have a thick skin!  Some people stood talking about my stall as if I was not there and a couple of times when someone was admiring my stall their friend said they thought my items were too expensive or they had seen something better!

Still I would highly recommend it but you need to be prepared so I have added a check list to My Pages which will hopefully be of help to any Craft Fair novices like me!  

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Folksy Summer School 2013

Last weekend I attended the Folksy Summer School, it was held at the Discovery Centre in Ecclesall Woods, Sheffield, a lovely setting and the weather was with us.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the second day but thoroughly enjoyed the first day.  As well as a great goodie bag we had talks from makers and experts, demonstrations, good food and “nice people” (a Mini Moderns joke)!   

Luckily I took a big notebook as there was a lot of information to take in.  It certainly gave me lots to think about but three things really stood out.

Tell a Story:
  • Not just what you do but why do you do it
  • Tell people about the journey your projects take, the good and the bad
  • Tell people about yourself 

  • It’s more than a logo
  • Use contact opportunities to reinforce your brand, goes back to telling a story
  • Reinforce your brand with existing customers

Identify What You Enjoy:
  • Look at all elements of the making journey
  • Look at expanding into other aspects such at teaching or demonstrations
  • But don’t forget you still need to do the boring stuff!

So as part of my forward plan I will:

  • Review my online profiles, more "why” not just “what”.  
  • Look at the information I send out with my items, make it more personal.  
  • Start a “To Do List” making sure the boring/urgent items get done as well as the nice/non urgents!  

And finally this blog, the summer school made me realise that I enjoy writing as well as making so I will be putting aside time to improve it, post regularly, tell the story........

Friday, 9 August 2013

Its a First!

Well two, for me!

My first first is attending a summer school.  It takes place this weekend and is being run by Folksy, the online market place where I sell my makes.  It has talks, demonstrations and lots of advice for crafty sellers.  I am particularly looking forward to meeting fellow makers and hopefully making some new friends!  

My second first is selling at a Craft Fair, I have at last taken the plunge and booked a couple of Thursdays at a regular Craft and Gift Fair that is held in Bakewell. 

So wish me luck, I will post updates and let you know how I get on.

P.S.  I am in the process of updating the layout of my Blog, many thanks to Janet and others who offered me support and advice on the Discussion Groups at Linkedin.   I will pull together all their advice and share it with you.   

Monday, 22 July 2013

Everyone Needs a Drawstring Bag

Finally I have completed my first collection of drawstring bags.  My excuses have been the weather, being distracted by the need to rescue my garden my doing lots of watering and trying to avoid any ironing!

It has been lovely sitting outside under a parasol doing the hand sewing but the conservatory, where my work table and sewing machine are set up has been peaking at 48 degrees!  Sewing when you are "glowing" is not a great idea!!

However this cooler patch has allowed me to get them finished and I am very pleased with the results.  They come in a range of colours and sizes and I have used vintage embroidered table runners, tray cloths or seat backs to make them, with the usual trademark gingham.  I also managed to source some lovely matching gingham ribbon to use as the drawstrings.  

 So why do you need a drawstring bag?  I have come up with the following list and no doubt you will have lots of other suggestions:

  • Prettier than plastic bags when packing shoes or other items you want to keep separate
  • Great for laundry, especially in a spare room hanging behind the door
  • Smaller ones are good for jewellery, especially if you have a lot of large necklaces
  • Haircare bits and bobs can be kept together, I use one for my straighteners and brushes when going away (But please make sure they have fully cooled down)
  • Ideal for storing fabric scraps that are too small or odd shaped to fold
  • Will keep unmentionables away from prying eyes in the bathroom

My bags are now on sale at my Folksy shop please take a look!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Warm Weather and Wash Days

As much as this warm weather is a pleasant change from the cold and rain I'm afraid its just a bit too much.  All my best intentions of getting out into the garden have fallen by the wayside as even with a hat and keeping in the shade I have been left feeling like a wet rag and have had to retreat indoors after half an hour.  

So instead I thought I would have look through my linen collection and get a batch ready for my next sewing session.  Also I had a few lurking at the bottom of the laundry basket needing some special treatment which I really couldn't ignore any more!

So here is my method for preparing and cleaning vintage table linen:

  • First I unpick the seams, this makes it easier to flatten after washing.
  • I then repair any damaged embroidery and darn any small holes in the fabric
  • Then spot treat any marks starting with good old Vanish, a soak in the powder is usually enough but sometimes I will also give it a rub with Vanish stick if it looks like a tough one. 
  • If this doesn't work or the fabric is delicate and you would rather not use a chemical cleaner then a paste of baking powder and lemon juice is also worth trying.  
  • If all else fails then I revert to my grandmothers tried and tested method, sunlight!  I put the item out in the sun making sure the mark is prominent. You can hang them on the washing line but I found it works quicker by lying the item flat, your lawn will do fine!  If the weather does not allow for this (!) folding the item so the mark in upper most and putting it on a sunny window sill will also work but may take 2 or 3 days. 
  • Then I end with a gentle machine wash using a good quantity of a basic fabric conditioner to remove the stiffness out of the linen.  I have found the cheaper the better!
I love going through my linen collection as there's always so many I've forgotten about and seeing them side by side on the washing line is all the inspiration I need to start making my next collection!.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

My First Drawstring Bag - I Love It!

I have a very old apple tree in my garden however it still manages to produce a few apples each year, good to eat but even better in pies.  However my favourite bit is the blossom, I love the pinky shades it produces every year.

So when I found this lovely bit of embroidery in one of my favourite Highland antique shops I had to have it.  It was a small tray cloth with stylised flowers on each corner but what caught my eye was the colours, lovely shades of pinks. It was not sewn on the usual linen but instead a soft cotton so not really suitable for a cushion.  So I thought I would have a go at a drawstring bag.  

I had already looked at a number of patterns but none were quite what I wanted so it I had a go at producing something to my own design.  I wanted a cuff at the top so I got a bit of a frill when the bag was closed plus a neat finish around the top of the bag on the inside. 

The final version is very pretty but it took some time as I had to rework the top so this ones a keeper!  

Having now been through the process I have worked out how to do it, giving me the finish I want but taking less time.  Now to hunt through my fabric stash and look for some suitable embroidery and fabrics so I can make some more.  So watch this space for news on my new range of drawstring bags which I hope to add to my collection in the next few weeks!  

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Love My Work Table

My new sewing machine is going well.  It's slower than a full size one and I wouldn't want to make curtains on it but for the short lengths of stitching that I do most of the time it's ideal.  It has a large foot but being clear plastic its easy to see what you are doing, great for when you need to stop stitching at corners etc.  Also the spool is drop in and has a clear cover so you don't get caught out when the thread runs out!

My other great buy is a cake stand from  I was looking for something to store my reels of ribbon and this has proved to be ideal.  

So having set up my worktable in the conservatory I have a great place to work with a lovely view of my garden.  That is what I call inspiration!