Friday, 19 December 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Janet Clare

The last Crafty Lady of 2014 is textile designer Janet Clare. I hope you guys have enjoyed this series! It's been a pleasure to showcase so many talented designers and makers, and I've got lots more interviews lined up for 2015 :)

I've been a fan of Janet's work since first seeing it at the Festival of Quilts back in 2011 - it is so charming and distinctive. Janet stitches and quilts, writes books and sewing patterns, runs workshops and designs fabric... I especially love her British bird quilt patterns.


Hello! I’m Janet Clare and I design quilting fabric for Moda and write books (four to date!) and teach how to draw with your sewing machine. I have two boys and a dog called Betty who keep me very busy (and the house covered in mud!)


Recently I’ve been making…

... a couple of Anna dresses and have been trying very hard to master French seams (I can do them so long as they’re straight!). I’ve also been knitting the world’s most boring garter stitch scarf for my youngest Henry – it’s red, DK, 22 stitches and all garter stitch, but not only is it the world’s most boring knit it’s also the world’s most relaxing! It is well travelled and I will knit in public (trains, cafĂ©) without flinching! Henry says he will only wear the scarf if it’s super cold, but never ever to school!

I’ve been working on…

I’m writing my fifth book The Wordsmith at the moment and you can see the inspiration for it here on my Pinterest board. I will have the book ready for the Festival of Quilts, August 2015, NEC Birmingham. Writing books is one of my very favourite things to do. I work closely with my friend Hayley who does all the graphic design and my friend Sarah who does all the photography.

When the book is finished we will put our best dresses on and meet in the poshest hotel near us for mojito’s! It’s tradition!


I’ve been blogging about…

I haven’t been blogging so much lately as I’m slightly obsessed with the ease of Instagram! However, I do still love my blog and have talked about our family visit to see the poppies at the Tower of London which was incredibly moving. Even my boys were silenced by the display!

I am lucky enough to design fabric for Moda and they regularly host blog tours. The latest one asked us to talk about things we love. Moda are very generous and all the designers had fabric bundles to giveaway and free patterns and we all taped a little video at Quilt market sharing a technique that is special to us.


In the summer I visited a school in Kent to see an exhibition of work they had done inspired by my first book Freya and Fred. The children had been learning about restorative justice and had all appliqued themselves and made a wall hanging which will be on display in the school. This was a very special evening as you can imagine. Knowing I have inspired people is truly amazing.

I’ve been reading…

I love Selvedge magazine which is always full of textile inspiration (even the ads are interesting!). I read a lot of novels- nothing too challenging and only last thing at night to help me sleep. The last book I loved was How Much of Us There Was by Michael Kimball. My favourite book of all is Anne of Green Gables.

While I sew, I’ve been listening to…

If I’m sewing or making something that has already been designed I’ll listen to BBC Radio 4- my Blighty quilt from Hearty Good Wishes was inspired by the shipping forecast!


Or I’ll watch a cheesy romantic comedy on Netflix. However, if I’m designing then only silence will do.

Janet’s 3 Top Tips for Being Creative

1. Authenticity is magnetic. If you want to succeed you must stop looking at and worrying about what everyone else is doing and just do your own thing. This is much harder than it sounds (and I fail at it regularly) but it really is the only way to get your voice heard. That voice has to be unique. So, write what you want to write and share what you genuinely want to share and your audience will find you.

2. Keep inspired. Again, often harder than it sounds but try and make time to play with your craft materials, experiment, see shows, read, look at Pinterest, go charity shopping and keep that ‘well’ topped up with ideas. Also, you need to be creative every single day- some days this means re-arranging a shelf after you’ve dusted it but as Alice Walker said ‘Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul’. I really believe that you have to nurture and cherish your creativity: ignoring it or denying it for too long might make it leave you altogether.

3. But the very best thing I ever did to help with creativity and productivity is to make my artisan apron - my work uniform. I put it on when I intend to design and work and take it off when I’m finished for the day. Everyone knows (including me!) that if I’m wearing my apron I’m working. Invaluable for a stay at home Mum of two boys and a big black dog whose day could easily be swallowed by chores and not by my design work.


Visit Janet's blog to read more about her and her work, or head to her shop to check out her books and sewing patterns. You can also find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Click here to read more posts in the Crafty Ladies series.

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Mini Knitting!

I was having a tidy up yesterday and found a bit of mini knitting I did a while ago...

... the "knitting needles" are cocktail sticks and the "yarn" is embroidery thread!

The finished knitting is really quite teeny, just an inch across.

I knitted this while testing out some ideas for a secret project. I ended up not using the mini knitting in the project as though it's super cute it was a total pain to knit... but it seemed wrong to just unravel it without taking a photo first! :)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Meet My Sponsors: December

Time to meet my current sponsors!

Blooming Felt sells 100% wool felt sheets, colourful fairtrade felt craft supplies like felt flowers and felt purses, plus other crafty goodness including buttons, ribbons, flat pad findings, glue, embroidery floss, craft books and fabric:

At Joe's Toes you'll find thick wool felt, punched felt shapes, kits and supplies for making things like wool felt & leather slippers, iPad cases and luggage tags... plus colourful socks made from recycled cotton:

AnnyMay Craft Supplies specialise in eco friendly, natural and colourful supplies, and all their orders are shipped in eco friendly packaging.

At The Kitchen Table Business Academy you'll find courses, workshops, e-books, workbooks and lots of free hints, tips and advice for turning your passion into a money-making business:

Cloud Craft sell 100% wool felt and modern needlework supplies like buttons, thread, wooden stitching shapes, trims, and stitching kits:

Big Fish sells lots of colourful buttons and felt balls, as well as other craft supplies like pins, ribbons and mini embroidery hoops:

At Story Box you can create personalised gifts by filling a 3D frame with mini objects to represent a friend or loved one, or to celebrate a special occasion:

And illustrator and printmaker Debbie Greenaway creates cards, notebooks and jewellery featuring her drawings:

P.S. I'm taking a break from selling blog ads (click here for more information). Many thanks to all my sponsors past & present who have helped support my blog!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Crochet Hooks and Swans

I picked up a couple of craft magazines at the newsagent yesterday...


... the latest issue of docrafts Creativity magazine and a "bookazine" called Adorable Animals.

Regular readers may remember that I've done a few projects for Creativity over the past few months. For this month's issue I stitched a wrap for storing crochet hooks, which can easily be adapted for other tools:

You can spot my Adorable Animals project on the contents page...

... felt swan collar clips! If you're not a fan of the collar clip trend you could stitch one swan to be a brooch or attach the swans to a pair of hairclips.

The swans were soooo much fun to stitch. I adore anything bird-themed and making mini versions of anything is always such an interesting challenge!


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