Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Vintage Pansies: Almost Finished!

After a few more hours of stitching at the weekend, my embroidered pansies are coming along nicely:

I finished stitching the purple sections then (finally) made a decision about how to stitch the centres. As you can see, I decided to stitch them mostly in yellow with some black lines for added detail.

One of the fun/scary things about stitching up old embroidery transfers is that you have no idea how the design will look when it's stitched and just have to wing it when it comes to your colour choices. It took me ages to work out just how I ought to stitch these pansies, but I think they turned out okay!

In the spirit of showing your workings, here's a snap of the back:

Now I just need to choose a suitable shade of green for the leaves and stitch those, then it will be time to do a happy and slightly embarrassing "yay! I finished my project!" dance.

I will be sharing pictures of the finished pansies, of course, but not of the dance :)

Monday, 25 August 2014

A Visit to The Cornershop

I took a trip to East London last week (as part of a Nice Day Out) to visit Lucy Sparrow's Cornershop.

This is a pop-up shop with a difference - all the products in the shop have been hand-stitched from felt!

Lucy stitched all the products herself, right down to the felt signs and felt till / cash register.

There are biscuits and beer...

... lots of felt newspapers...

... tins of sardines, baked beans, soup, custard and fruit cocktail...


...  and jars of sweets and bottles of gin.


There's a chiller cabinet with butter, cheese, milk, cans of Coke and boxed sandwiches...


... and freezers with ready meals, oven chips, plus icecreams and ice lollies.

Don't forget the Marmite and Custard Creams!

There are also felt versions of all your household essentials, like toothpaste, shampoo, washing powder and dog food.

Plus (of course) lots of schoolkid-tempting treats like sweets and crisps.


The Cornershop is open every day until the end of August. You can read more about The Cornershop and Lucy's previous felt artworks here.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Fabric Rainbow

I got a rainbow in the post this week - a shade card for Kona cotton solids (a range of plain coloured quilting cottons).


Picking colours online can be so tricky, especially when you need to match something exactly. The same colours can look totally different when photographed in different lights or when displayed on different computer monitors.

Having a sample card makes things so much easier. I loooove the DMC threads shade card I bought a couple of years ago, it has saved me from many hours of squinting at pictures in online shops and/or having to buy multiple shades in the hope that one will be "just right" for a particular project.

So, now that I am plotting to make more things with fabric I thought I'd treat myself to a Kona shade card so I can shop for exactly the shades I need without worrying whether or not they'll match.

Unfortunately it turns out that a new batch of colours have just been added to this range, which are not include on the shade card I bought. Oops.

Not the best timing on my part, but never mind. These 271 colours should be plenty to be getting along with... 

... mmm... so much yummy colour!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Ginny Farquhar

This week's Crafty Lady is Ginny Farquhar, who designs and makes and writes and sews and teaches!

She's half of crafty duo Alice & Ginny who run sewing workshops together, and whose latest book - Sewing For Kids - I'll be reviewing next month. Ginny also sells her photography and pretty textile jewellery under the name Sweet Myrtle.



Hello, I’m Ginny! I love being creative and also love sharing my skills and helping others get creative too.

I live in Hampshire with my husband, two teenage daughters and a black cat called Magic.  I work as a sewing teacher and craft workshop leader and also write sewing books and projects. Under the banner of Alice and Ginny, I collaborate with my best friend and we run regular sewing and dressmaking classes for teenagers and adults in Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex. I love my job and love meeting so many different people and I get so much pleasure from being part of their sewing journeys.


I take lots of photos of nature and when I am not working I enjoy being at home tending our small productive garden where we grow herbs, fruit and veg. My secret wish is to transport our home and garden to a flower meadow, high up on the edge of a hill surrounded by trees and with a view of the sea in the distance.

Recently I’ve been …

...doing a lot of dressmaking! After spending years making for others, having previously made theatre costumes for a living, I am now really enjoying making more of my own clothes. My aim is to one day have only ‘me made’ clothes in my wardrobe. My recent makes are some Katherine Hepburn inspired wide leg linen trousers and a simple top using New Look 6808 pattern. My biggest dressmaking project recently though was making a Prom dress with my eldest daughter for her school leavers Prom.


As well as dressmaking I have been making paper pompoms, leading a free drop in pompom workshop at a local art centre. The pompoms were used to decorate the centre for its indoor music festival where I was in my element running hippie flower crown making activities.

I’ve been working on…

...an exciting project with my friend Jen from My Make do and Mend Year, writing a chapter about hemming for a fantastic e-book she is putting together. The book will give advice on the basics of making and mending and will be out in the autumn.


I am also collating images of our Alice and Ginny student’s creations to put together for a celebratory display of their work at Thread textile festival in Farnham in September.


After a relaxing summer the time has now come to write lesson plans and prepare the materials for our autumn sewing workshops and courses which recommence in early September.

I am also just about to start making a shirt for my husband for his 50th birthday and helping my daughters plan and bake a celebration cake, based on his love of growing vegetables. Should these projects go to plan, there may be a blog post to share our results

I’ve been blogging about…

...having blogged since 2006 I seem to have become a lazy blogger lately.  I have however recently blogged about making calendula salve from marigold flowers in my garden, after seeing a great recipe on the permaculture blog. I also joined in the golden mending craze and shared my repair job after ripping my skirt on barbed wire and I've written some blog posts about the process of making my daughters Prom dress.


I’ve been reading…

... Letting in the Wild Edges by Glennie Kindred, a beautiful book about connecting with nature and learning to use native plants. Next on my list to read is Cultivating Your Creative Life by Alena Hennessy which has lots of art exercises and inspiration for drawing and painting from nature.

While I sew I like to listen to… 

... radio iplayer or podcasts. The Arts and Healing Network’ is a particular favourite as they have wonderful interviews on the healing power of the creative arts. This is an area I am passionate about and within my teaching work I see daily the importance and benefit of creating as a way of expression, relaxation, connection and confidence building.

Ginny’s 3 Top Tips for Dressmaking

1. Start with simple garments with only a few pattern pieces and minimal techniques. Loose fitting tops and dresses or a simple A-line skirt make perfect first projects.

2. When choosing a dressmaking pattern, image search the pattern numbers you like. This way you will see what the designs look like made up in different fabrics and on lots of different body shapes. You may even find some reviews or blog posts from dressmakers who have made up the patterns with all their tips and modifications for sewing them.

3. Always do a toile first. This is a mock up of the garment created in a cheap cloth of a similar weight to the final cloth. Often calico or old sheets are used. This ‘test run’ is important to do to check for fit but also gives you an opportunity to work through and become familiar with the pattern instructions and the process of construction. It also gives you a chance to make any mistakes here so when you come to your real garment it will be plain sailing!

Visit Alice & Ginny for info about sewing courses and workshops, or click here to visit Ginny's blog. You'll also find Ginny on Twitter.


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