Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Things always take longer than you think!

I had a plan for today.
It started well - an early morning swim followed by a Pilates class. Home for a quick breakfast whilst I checked and replied to emails and caught up with some blog reading.
Then it was turn the computer off and come into my studio to work.
The plan was to use this collaged fabric that I had made earlier and to turn it into another bag. A pleasant morning sewing, followed by lunch and then an afternoon spent doing my paperwork for this week.

Well that was the plan.... which started to go pear shaped as soon as I realised I needed to make some extra fabric for the collar of the bag. That took until lunch time.

I then realised I didn't have quite enough of the fabric that I wanted for the handle so spent a considerable amount of time searching my stash for something suitable.

I've yet to make one of these bags without doing something wrong... so I then had to do some unpicking so that I could put right the twisted handle!

I had to cover a button...

Take lots of photographs...

and then upload it all to my etsy shop... by which time it was almost 6 pm. So much for the paperwork!

So I then thought I might as well write a blog post to let everyone know  there is a new bag in my shop. Just half an hour... then I'll get dinner started...

That was well over an hour ago and already two of them have come in to ask when's dinner and Stewart has just announced he's going to have to resort to some "emergency toast" while he waits!
Of course, if you would like to make your own collaged fabric and possibly turn it into a bag... the tutorial and pattern is also available in my shop. And a huge thank you to everyone who has bought one so far!
I really had better go and make dinner now....

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Time out

We've had a quiet weekend and I've been determined not to be ruled by my ever growing list of work projects, admin, jobs around the house etc and instead I've taken time off and I've made time to play which is not something I find easy to do.
Inspired by the patterns created by the arrangements of my cornflake cakes, I got out my sketchbook and crayons yesterday and spent a blissful few hours just drawing... and wondered why I don't find time to do this more often.

Pencil, kohinoor inks, neocolour II crayons and a black ink pen... and this is what I've ended up with. I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this... but then that doesn't matter really.

And today I've recreated the same image but with decorated papers and a pot of glue. To be completely honest, it hasn't just been playing for the sake of it as I'm trying to "practise what I preach" in advance of our next Spectrum meeting but I've been reminded what fun this can be.

And now I'm sat by the fireside, feet up and knitting at the ready while Stewart cooks me supper... a rare but much appreciated event. And I'm making the most of it before the family descend tomorrow when I'll be back in the kitchen.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Easter Baking

I had an urge to make chocolate cornflake cakes. I've no idea why because I don't think I've made them since my boys were all small and would help with the stirring and mixing. I had to go out and buy cornflakes especially.
I added mini eggs to make them more seasonal... you can't imagine how difficult it was to find a packet of mini eggs yesterday. I think I may have just bought the last packet in the universe. Sorry if you were hoping to pick up a packet or two today.

Strangely satisfying arranging them in geometric patterns... which is just as well because no-one is eating them. There's only three of us at home (one of whom is diabetic) until Monday and to be honest they are a bit sickly after the first one. Sickly but good!

I did grown up baking too... but we've got the same problem...

A dozen huge hot cross buns and only two of us actually eating them.

They made a rather splendid breakfast. Would it be wrong to have them for elevenses and lunch as well? Don't answer... I'll freeze some unless you fancy popping round for afternoon tea?

Have a lovely Easter weekend whatever you may be doing... or eating!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Brooches and Butterflies

Quite a long time ago... an embarassingly long time ago actually, I spent a lovely day with a very kind lady called Terry who taught me how to make mosiacs. Well... a mosiac actually, the one pictured below, because I'm not really sure I could repeat the experience and remember how to make another one! The idea was that we would have a skills swap.

We did have a date set for Terry to come to my studio to do some embroidery but with one thing and another I had to postpone. Finally my guilt got the better of me and last week, Terry and I met at Wimpole Hall. We bought some lunch and sat in the corner of the restaurant trying to avoid the hoards of children on their Easter holidays and I showed Terry how to make a brooch using needle weaving.
A couple of hours later Terry had made the most exquisite brooch which she finished in time to wear home. Unfortunately my photography was not so exquisite and you cannot see how pretty it looked!

While Terry worked on her brooch I worked on one of my own and this is what I ended up with. I had forgotten what fun these are to make.

Tiny squares of woven threads adorned with beads.

And so inspired was I by Terry's pretty blue/green combination I made another one that evening.

And it did occur to me that as well as a collection of expensive bags...

I could also make a collection of not quite so expensive brooches for Open Studios in July.

And then at knitting on Friday, Pam was giving away some gorgeous threads... and I thought these would be just the thing for a whole range of beautiful brooches.

I would say watch this space but no doubt I'll be excited by something else by this time next week... butterfly brain... that's me!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Bag loads of bags

Before I released the instructions for my collaged fabric onto you dear readers I had been road testing it on my weekly machine embroidery class. As ever, armed with the same instructions and my samples, each member of the class has come up with their own individual interpretation.
Margaret made this lovely purple and turquoise combination into a changing bag for her first grandchild... and very obligingly, baby Penelope arrived this week!

This summery looking bag belongs to Linda our newest member of the class... but she always makes such lovely accomplished things that I really am going to have to stop calling her a beginner.

Di included some fabulous fabrics in her bag, including these old doilies.

And of course, as Di is a beader she had to add a little special beaded touch... have you spotted the butterfly?

Jan made two bags in the time everyone else made their first one and was already on her third by the end of term!

Barbara's pictured below was still a work in progress...

As was Ann's below. Ann has a lovely handle to attach to hers when it is finished. It also has an incredible amount of stitching and it reminded us all of Mary Poppins' carpet bag!

And Jean made this lovely bag below following my bag instructions to the letter, thoroughly testing it and proof reading it for me. Thank you Jean!

Feeling inspired? Then why not buy your own tutorial to make some crazy collaged fabric for yourself... available here!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A Handbag????

The title of this post needs to be read in your best "Lady Bracknell" voice....
Do you remember a few weeks ago that I was inspired by the fabulous work of Lauren Shanley and as a result I devised a way of creating a similar collaged fabric and then made a bag? You don't? Ah well, never mind, I did and the result was the bag pictured below... so do read on...
I loved creating this fabric... it was such fun.

So much fun in fact that I went on to make a second bag... very similar to the first as I perfected the technique....

and tried to write out the instructions for my students in a language they could actually understand.

I even added pockets and labels...

I was actually so excited that I went on to make a third bag but this time in pink. I'm working on a collection (I jest not) which I'm hoping to have ready for Open Studios in a couple of months.

But just to test the water I have decided to list the pink bag and one of the black bags in my Etsy shop.

Now I am aware that I'm about to shoot myself in the foot and I'm unlikely to pick up any awards for salesman of the year... but the bags are a bit pricey!

In truth, I do think by the time you factor in all the time, planning, fabrics etc. they are not really that pricey at all and are quite good value for money... especially when you consider that each one is a unique designer item and actually it seems positively cheap compared to some bags!

But I'm also aware that I wouldn't want to pay that for a bag that I would probably think I could make myself. And let's face it... my average reader is pretty useful when it comes to making things for themselves. And so then I hit on another idea (prompted by a special blogging friend), that if I was teaching this to my students then I could also teach this to you!

So as well as listing the bags in my shop I have also got a 14 page step by step, fully illustrated tutorial and pattern listed for making both the fabric and the bag... two for the price of one!
So you can choose... a ready made bag... or instructions to make your own!

And next time I'm here I'll show you the bags that my students have made!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Fun, Friendship and Fellowship

 I've been away for the weekend... not teaching, not working but having lots of fun.
I've attended my first ever national AGM for the Embroiderers' Guild and I'm wondering why I've never been before.
There were a variety of workshops on offer and I started off on Friday morning making fairy shoes with the delightful and very funny Annette Emms.
Totally frivolous but lots of fun... even more so when we realised that dotted around the conference rooms were bowls full of sweeties... jelly beans, jelly babies, refreshers etc.... I confess I may have been just a little high on sugar and e-numbers all weekend!

After a wonderful lunch I took another workshop with Brenda Scarman where I learned to attach Shisha mirrors onto canvas - a new technique for me.

I've ended up with a delightful little pin cushion that I'm thinking will make a good project for my Young Embroiderers.

As well as workshops we were treated to some entertaining and informative talks, there were exhibitions to look at, books to browse, traders to buy from and best of all friends to chat and laugh with.

On Saturday night we had a wonderful Gala dinner - the food all weekend was excellent - with a talk by Professor Malcolm Lochhead, which was very entertaining.

Of course in the middle of it all was the AGM, which despite being a little drawn out and over long was still postive and encouraging for the future of the Guild.

And without doubt it feels time to put the past problems of the Guild behind us and move forward...
And I'm looking forward to my next AGM for more fun!