Don’t beat yourself up over UFO’s

Vintage thread

Speak to anyone creative about their stash and they will admit to having a pile of UFO’s or unfinished objects. It’s like a guilty secret – I also suffered from the same – it wasn’t until I moved out of a home of 10 years that I was faced with a mountain of half completed projects – I felt incredible sadness for all the waste and money that I had quite simply thrown away. 

I have changed the way I think about these recently, because guilt stifles creativity and experimentation. There are times when we need to develop a technique or experiment with a new hobby – and it really is an opportunity to grow and stretch ourselves. 

experimentation

Permission to play

Giving yourself permission to play is key to finding new ways to develop your skills and improve your techniques. Release yourself from the obligation to have something to show at the end of the session and see the time and materials as an investment of your skills rather than judging things by outcome. 

Don’t cheat on materials too, use the same material you intend to use on your project if you can – like a recipe – each element of your project will affect its overall effectiveness, using a lovely drapery fabric like georgette will not be the same if your toile is made from calico. 

Vintage thread

Recognise what to keep and what to bin

Sometimes things go wrong, sometimes we hit on a block and what we hoped to do just did not work out. Recently I was making cushions and for some reason the bias binding was getting in a right tangle around my piping – yes, I could have spent hours unpicking, but in the end, I simply cut it off and threw it away.  I did not keep the binding as a reminder of my failure, I just found another way to do it. 

Sometimes letting go of what doesn’t work – is the best way to release yourself from the guilt. Keeping the project in a plastic carrier bag in an ever growing pile will stifle your experimentation because it is a reminder of ‘failure’. Don’t let your sewing space get cluttered up with negativity. Just let it go. 

Give yourself some time

Sometimes you hit a block on a piece of work, you just don’t know how to move forward with something. These are the projects you need to keep, but don’t hide them away in plastic bags. Leave them out, on a noticeboard, have a fabric box or use a sewing basket to keep these objects in and now and then take them out. 

This piece of needle felting (above) did not feel finished to me – although my creative friends suggested I frame it. I kept on looking at it, but could not see a way forward. 

Then – I came across it again this week, (you can see from the state above that was over four years ago!) Suddenly, looking at it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and I began the process of completing it. It only took an hour or so, but it was delightful progress. 

needle felting

I just needed time – and that is what you also need to be creative, patience with yourself. Be kind to yourself about your Unfinished projects, see them as work in progress and allow the creativity to come without guilt or reprimand. Most importantly, have fun! 

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Knitting and Stitching Show, 2018 Alexandra Palace London.

knitting and stitching show 2018

I’ve joined the Embroiders Guild my local group is very welcoming and full of other ladies with a passion for textiles to match my own. They organised a coach trip up to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace – it was lovely to go along as a group!

The photo above greeted us in the main foyer, called Edwards Menagerie by TOFT – there were 400 different crochet creations  on display which were an absolute delight to browse. They also sponsored a craft lounge where you could make a crochet Autumn leaf.

Royal School of Needlework

Royal School of Needlework

The Royal School of Needlework‘s exhibition of tea and cake was a delight – their stand was a great demonstration of embroidery and I drooled over their course booklet – I would love to spend a few years studying for one of their degrees, in the glorious setting of Hampton Court Palace…. maybe one day!

Royal School of Needlework

Royal School of Needlework

The spoons were silver work and so delicately done – as were the stump work flowers which I am sure were hand done – but were so fine they looked as if they had been on a machine!

Royal School of Needlework – Version 3

Royal School of Needlework

What I cannot show you, is the exquisite embroideries by the Embroiderer’s Guild because they do not allow photography. Their annual competition was incredible too, it just amazes me how many talented people there are out there who lift this to an art form.

One exhibition that took my breath away was called The Dementia Darnings by Jenni Dutton. It is a set of thread portraits of her mother’s decline into dementia – the portraits are absolutely stunning – its not until you get up close do you realise that they are made from thread.

Ideas associated with loosing the threads of memory, stitches that bind and unravel are implicit in the work, reflecting the gradual loss of memory

I don’t know where the exhibit is going next – but if you get a chance to see it, it will be well worth it.

Knitting and stitching show

I asked this young girl if I could take a photo, she looked amazing in her Sailor Moon outfit – the Japanese have such a playful sense of dressing up.

There were many suppliers with just about every stitching notion you could wish for, and never knew you needed! But it was the fabric suppliers that I most wanted to connect with. There are so few fabric retailers in my locality so I was most impressed by the following:

M Rosenberg & Son  and Montreaux Fabrics – they had a huge selection of fabrics including some beautiful tweeds from Italian designers.

portraits

I was in awe of Sally Hewett’s talent for padded stitched body parts! they were amazing to see! There were even portraits of different types of nipples as well as portraits of post mastectomies, large bottoms, and bellies with stretch marks. It is all part of a body positive movement and was an amusing way to end the day.

The exhibition is on for three days there are some wonderful workshops to do – I think it would take three days to get the most out of it! Looking forward to next year!

 

Bees wax wraps – perfect to use up fabric scraps as well as reduce plastic wrap!

Bees wax food wrap

This project has been the most fun and it can be a little addictive! We are all seeking alternatives to plastic, not just to reduce the mountains of plastic waste – as well as making something more sustainable and cost effective. These wraps can be made from scraps of fabric left over from projects or you can purchase some plain cotton cloth. It works best on thin cotton, used for patchwork.

To make a cloth you will need,

wax stips ingredients

You lay the baking parchment on your tray (believe me you need a tray! I did it the first time and ended up with beeswax running all over my ironing board!)

Lay your fabric wrong side facing and sprinkle the beeswax over the fabric, lightly.

Lay the parchment over the top and using a medium to hot iron begin to slowly work from the centre outwards.

plastic free food wrap lesson

iron from the middle outwards you will see the fabric colour change and the wax oozes away

You will see the wax change to a runny consistency and you can see the fabric slowly change colour as it soaks up the wax.

Keep working until all the fabric is covered.

 

food wrap - sprinkle beeswax onto fabric

sprinkle beeswax on fabric

This is far too much beeswax, when you iron on it it will leak everywhere! Not only that the wax is quite difficult to press under the iron.

Bees wax food wrap

Too much wax on fabric

You end up with too much wax and the fabric looks messy. The great thing about this project is that there is no waste!

Simply place this fabric between the baking parchment and let your iron slowly work the wax into liquid form. Move the wax away from the fabric and keep going until the fabric looks soaked and there is no excess of wax around it.

bees wax food wrap

melting the wax with an iron

 

You can do longer pieces in sections, moving across the fabric slowly. As long as you keep your baking parchment between the iron and the wax it will be fine.

Bees wax wrap

Bees wax cloth will cool quickly

The wax cools very quickly, when you peel the fabric off the baking parchment it will feel like oil cloth – it is quite stiff.

This is why it is best to use lightweight fabrics, heavier cottons such as furnishing fabric – takes more wax and makes the fabric stiffer.

Trim edges after waxing to keep from fraying

Trim edges after melting wax to prevent fraying

I use some pinking shears to finish off the edges after the waxing, it makes a nice neat finish. You can see the texture of the fabric in this close up shot.

 

The advantage these beeswax cloths have over clingfilm is that there is no transference of chemicals. Cheese is particularly vulnerable to picking up the chemicals in plastic.

The beeswax wraps are also washable, just use warm soapy water, (not hot) and use again.

The wax cloths are also very mouldable – use the warmth of your hands to smooth the wax around the object. I found this large wrap kept bread fresh.

eco friendly frugal gift wrap

These wraps also make a wonderful wrapping for some trickier gifts, without the need for sellotape. Not only do you cut down on wasted paper but the recipient has a useful object to keep food well.

bees wax yellow on baking parchment

yellow beeswax on baking parchment

This is a very cost effective project, using scraps of fabric and off cuts and the beeswax goes a long way.

You can get soy candle wax if you prefer – this wax came yellow and it has given the fabric a creamy colour – maybe there are uncoloured wax suppliers out there.

Do try and make your own – how often do you get to have fun and save the planet all at once?

ttfn x

 

 

 

Montessori Mobile

montessori mobile

At three months a baby is able to see things further away- so bright mobiles that move easily in any breeze are advocated for visual tracking and concentration.

Montessori mobiles are expensive, but you can make something that works just as well with a few feathers, light cotton and an embroidery hoop.

The great thing about this idea, is that you can re-use the embroidery hoop for a different mobile once this stage has ended.

Simply tie the feathers to a length of light cotton thread and then loop around an embroidery hoop. Attach hanging threads to the top to suspend from the ceiling.

It is a good idea to place the mobile near a breeze or open window so that the feathers turn slightly.

 

 

Enchanted April – spring is here!

MAKES

OH! what bliss it is to wander in Spring sunshine without a coat! It has been a delightful early spring so far, March went out like a lamb and April has been all sunshine and smiles!  The Crab apple trees on our daily walk are beautiful leaving a carpet of pink among the grass! There seems to be an abundance of pink everywhere we look –  pink is the colour of self love.  It is hard not to be affected by the burst of positive energy all around – life feels great.

I have been rifling through my seasonal clothes and have been re-united with some of my lovely summer dresses – everything feels lighter and brighter. The seeds I planted are coming along well, and we have been enjoying longer walks in the evenings – which lifts my energy levels and makes me feel better.

Spring

I unearthed my supremely comfortable pink (of course!) walking  boots and we headed to the local woods to see if we could find any wild garlic -we spotted clumps of white among the bluebells but the carpet of white flowers were anemones! They look so pretty and fresh among the vibrant greens, but I am not sure they are edible.

Primroses in the woods

These little beauties were flourishing at the side of the path – I remember when I was a child the woods would be covered in a carpet of blue, yellow and white – so it is nice to see there are still abundant wild flowers.

Old tree trunk in the woods

This tree trunk looks like some sort of Velociraptor (see the jaws on the right?) goodness knows how long its been there, but it is beautiful.

Live Simply

My quote this week reflects my decision this year to seek out the small pleasures. I know that Simple Abundance is having a huge impact and I feel as if I am waking up from a deep slumber. Once I began to mindfully, taste, touch, smell and hear it connects me with nature,  – everything you need is right here, right now, and there are gifts everywhere.

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I am a real fan of older films – this is from a film called Enchanted April made not that long ago in 1992, it is perfect Sunday afternoon viewing. Its available on Amazon for under a fiver.

A careworn middle class woman, Lottie Wilkins sees an advertisement to rent a small castle in Italy for April – England seems to be endlessly raining and her life seems so small and drab, She spends her life seeing to the whims of her husband.  When Lottie notices another lady, Rose Arbuthnot – looking just as downcast and in need of a holiday, they agree to rent it together. Two other ladies join them, a socialite Lady Caroline and a dowdy, widow Mrs Fisher. Italy works its magic and we see the women flourish among the terraced gardens and turrets of the small castle.

The book, by Elizabeth Arnim was written in 1921 – and is semi-biographical created when she was physically, and emotionally exhausted, having recently become a single mother. To recover  she travelled to Italy to get away from dreary England – and one day she observed the beautiful gardens below her study, and so she transformed the magic into a story of hope and liberation.

What the book highlights, is just how burdened women can be – and not just from responsibility but their own continual desire to ensure the happiness of those around them, family, friends neighbours. Nearly 100 years later women are still juggling with these same issues of commitments and family stress.

Women run on expectations, the way a car is fuelled by gas. And it doesn’t matter whose: unspoken assignments from parents, bosses clients, children and lovers all crowd our calendars’ borders in ink only we can see.

While the film is delightful, I am finding the book has more depth, you read from each character’s perspective – you get inside their heads whereas the film can only hint at hidden motives. I found the character Lady Caroline more interesting, she is stunningly beautiful – but it is a burden that perhaps I had not appreciated until reading her tale.

hair do

My beloved son, Will is the Director of a Salon in Hampshire every 6 weeks my friend Jo and I  jaunt off for the day to have our hair done together. We usually spend a couple of hours browsing the shops and head to the Salon just after closing hours. We have the whole salon to ourselves.  Afterwards, we head out for a bite or two, sometimes we go jive dancing -depending on how exhausted he is after working all day!

Afternoon tea

Mothers Day was a protracted affair, my daughter and son in law came over for Afternoon tea, and then my son came over for a meal the following weekend, so it has been a great family time all round. I adored Mr D’s swirly sausage rolls and had more than one … or two!

Staffie in the woods

Staffordshire Bull terrier, Barney with ball

Of course, we can’t let a week go by without a Barney picture.. the ball is still intact surprisingly, although it did start out as a cuddly pig, but the pig fabric ended up decorating the lounge floor!

Happy Sunday. x

Sunday sevens is the delightful invention of Nat.. read her blog here. 

Looming adventures in Weaving

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Isn’t this delightful? I bought it at a small craft centre in Weymouth – I fell in love with the cheery mediterranean colours and the sloping hills reminded me so much of the lovely Dorset hills – I snapped it up right away.

I have a lovely friend, who weaves the most amazing cloth but her loom takes up a whole room in her house not to mention the two that take up a double garage! Weaving has therefore always felt a little out of reach until I was wandering round Hobbycraft, with a gift voucher hot in my hand, when I spotted this little loom.

 

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Yes, it is aimed at children… well those six and above, but the size is just right for a wall hanging and I made the concept of weaving much more approachable.

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This is a very simple loom, there are no forward and backward methods to make the weaving simple – but I actually liked the process of weaving the threads round with a needle, rather than a shuttle.

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It is not going to set the world on fire, but I am enjoying experimenting with the wool, playing around. (well it is a child’s loom after all!) I would like to do a little more weaving – there is so much inspiration on Pinterest, fingers crossed I will be able to share something soon.

 

Liberty Prints at the London Museum of Fashion and Textiles

 

Liberty Artistic Dressing

London Fashion and Textile Museum Liberty Exhibition 2016

There are not many chaps out there who are willing to encourage a fabric obsessive like me but the lovely Mr D asked me if I wanted to visit the Museum of Fashion and Textiles  as he had noticed there was a Liberty exhibition! I leaped at the opportunity! We headed off by train early on a chilly Saturday morning, after a short pleasant journey,   I found myself stepping through the glass doors and bright interior –  a world of Textiles  -Heaven on earth!

 

The exhibition was organised chronologically: this display of kimonos dates from the early years of Liberty around 1870. The exquisite hand embroidery was simply, divine. The butterflies and iris adorn exquisite silk kimonos and you can see in the bottom left an example of wallpaper that inspired  the kimono decoration.

I was thrilled to be able to get up close to the exhibits eager to feast my eyes on construction,  finishing and techniques used. I am fascinated by design details – and spent a great deal of time noting and photographing in order to create a reference at home. Having recently taken up hand embroidery it was inspiring to see it utilised in high end fashion it tends to go in cycles. The two items above were  examples of the dress reform movement. Women wanted clothing that was more practical, the late Victorian period where the S curve was in Vogue this was revolutionary! The dress on the right had exquisite pleating that simply followed the curves beautifully – a good 60 years before the 1930’s bias cut.

I spent a great deal if time taking in the wonderful construction details of the 1930’s to 1940’s stand. I particularly enjoyed the way the red flower dress was thoughtfully made. The neckline is trimmed with appliquéd flowers, the sleeve cap is full typical of the 1940s and has a lovely velvet ribbon detail running down the centre finished with a little bow. The velvet ribbon detail is repeated at the front placket, and the overall placement of the red/pink flowers is skilfully done.

The 1970’s saw a revival in ‘folk’ costume especially the use of smocking. The whole of the seventies section brought back memories of warm summers wearing gypsy skirts! I the brown  dress,  fabric is entirely shaped using this technique it allows so much movement that you can put the clothing on without the need for zips or darts! The wedding dress reminded me of the 1980s.

Art Nouveau had a revival in the 1960s prompting the use of more romantic folk styles classical empire lines, Victorian Butcher sleeves – updated with modern prints and fabrics. The wonderful detail of the corduroy dress yoke was a delight to my eye!

There were lots of displays of the patterns used and I did not realise Kate Greenaway had designed for Liberty (centre)

 

It was a wonderful exhibition – I took a lot more pictures that I shall use for reference there were so many examples of different construction techniques and embellishment ideas that I am still buzzing days later. I can’t wait to include them in my sewing.

The Museum of Fashion is just a short walk from London Bridge Station it is a real treat for any lover of textiles or fashion.